BOSTON

Immigrant Families Allege Discriminatory Treatment at East Boston Health Center

Immigrant patients have repeatedly reported substandard, discriminatory treatment at the clinic, resulting in "misdiagnosis, worsened health conditions, even death"

Immigrant women and mothers in Massachusetts are calling on state officials to investigate complaints of discriminatory and substandard care at a major Boston health clinic.

Lawyers for Civil Rights, a Boston-based legal advocacy group, said Tuesday it is filing a formal request for state Attorney General Maura Healey’s office and the state Department of Public Health to jointly open a review into the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center’s compliance with civil rights and public health laws.

Patricia Montes, head of Centro Presente, a Boston-based Latino organization assisting the families, says immigrant patients have repeatedly reported substandard, discriminatory treatment at the clinic, resulting in “misdiagnosis, worsened health conditions, even death.”

Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director of Lawyers for Civil Rights, said the state should conduct an investigation into the clinic through the lens of civil rights laws because the evidence laid out in their request shows that “substandard care falls particularly harshly” on immigrants, women and those with public health benefits.

“State law forbids health care providers from discriminating on the basis of race, national origin, sex, or MassHealth insurance status,” he said in a statement.

East Boston Health Center said in a statement Tuesday that it requested a meeting with Centro Presente and the patients it represents when they raised the complaints last month, but none have agreed to meet.

“We welcome dialogue with any of our patients regarding their experiences with our organization,” the statement said. “We have also proactively reached out to the attorney general’s office to invite a review of any allegation.”

Messages seeking comment were left with spokespersons for Healey’s office and the health department.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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