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Free Services at Ventanilla de Salud Offices Support Binational Health

A COVID testing booth at the BHW event

Across the United States, the Ventanillas de Salud (VdS) offices within the Mexican Consulates have been celebrating Binational Health Month, one of the largest mobilization efforts in the US to bolster the health of Latinx migrants and immigrants, and a much-needed expansion on the original Binational Health Week. To celebrate, the VdS offices in Austin, Del Rio, and Eagle Pass have pushed forward dozens of activities, health fairs, screenings, and vaccine clinics, for their local communities. VdS is a network of health outreach programs housed within each Mexican Consulate in the US; Migrant Clinicians Network is the fiscal sponsor of the VdS offices in Austin, Del Rio, and Eagle Pass in Texas. 

Images of the booths from the BHW 2022 event

“It’s an opportunity for the community to get health services, to have access to prevention services, especially for the communities that have more need, and are more vulnerable,” said Roxana Pineda, MPH, Ventanilla de Salud Coordinator in Austin. “This is a place where they can come and feel safe, because all the services are free, they don’t need to make an appointment, don’t have to show any kind of ID, don’t need to have insurance. That’s important.”

Pineda notes that most of the people who receive screenings and services would not otherwise access any of them. “They would need to pay if they went to another place,” she said. “Health care is more complicated for people with immigration status. I think that’s a big part of why we celebrate Binational Health Week,” and why the celebration has been expanded through the entire month.

A person being vaccinated

All three VdS offices held health fairs and screenings over the weekend to expand access to screenings and preventative medicine. At Eagle Pass, 140 kidney function tests were provided, along with numerous glucose tests, blood pressure readings, HIV tests, and flu vaccines. In Del Rio, one health fair alone provided 112 kidney function tests, 60 glucose tests, 30 HIV tests, and 50 flu vaccines, and in nearby San Angelo 50 additional kidney function tests were given for free. In Austin, 519 services were provided, like mammograms, glucose tests, blood pressure readings, vision screenings, HIV and STD tests, kidney screenings, and vaccinations for Hepatitis A and B, HPV, pneumonia, influenza, shingles, TDAP, and COVID. In Del Rio, Zin Nelda Tarango Zumba instructor provided the class “Zumba Gold” for persons 55 and older for “Breast Cancer Awareness” during the Binational Health Fair, with 40 participants.

Event attendees visit tables with resources

The events did not only support the health of binational people here in the US; some events operated across borders. On October 8, the Consulate of Mexico in Del Rio, the Vantanilla de Salud and the Medical Dental Association of San Antonio Tx, in collaboration with authorities from the city of Acuna, in Coahuila, Mexico, and Val Verde Community Center in Del Rio, Texas, hosted a wheelchair donation event, twenty-three residents with disabilities from Del Rio's sister city of Acuna, Mexico received free wheelchairs that were adjusted specifically for each patient's needs. Patients also received medical screenings as part of the services. More than 20 health providers attended the event, doctors, nurses, technicians, interpreters and assistants bring all the necessary medical equipment needed.

​​Images of the booths from the BHW 2022 event

The Ventanilla de Salud in Austin would like to thank Austin Public Health, Central Texas Counties Vaccine Collaborative, United Healthcare, National Kidney Foundation, Ascension Seton, Constable Precinct 4 Travis County,  Community Care, Central Health, Sendero Health Plan, Dell Children’s Healthplan, Big Pink Bus, Lone Star Circle of Care, Prevent Blindness, Aids Healthcare Foundation, It’s Time Texas, Sustainable Food Center, NAMI, Cultural Center Emma Barrientos, SAFE, Catholic Charities, The Source, Southwest Key, Central Texas Food Bank, Todos Juntos, Superior Healthplan, Mama Sana-Vibrant Woman, Blue Cross Blue Shield, MISMA, Saber es Poder, Latinitas, Austin Independent School District, Salud-Salud, YMCA, Con Mi Madre, University of Texas, Integral Care, Foundation Communities, Travis County Underage Drinking Prevention Program, Dell Medical School,  Avance, Austin Animal Center, Austin Public Library,   Alcoholics Anonymous, Word Financial.

Event attendees gather around a table

The Ventanilla de Salud, Eagle Pass would like to thank volunteers Dr. Laura Chami, Dr. Gerardo Bernal, US Renal Care, SWTJC, AHEC, Methodist Health Care Ministries, Maverick Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Hacienda de Paz, National Kidney Foundation, Maverick County Hospital District, the Department of Health, Lyon’s Club, Fire Department, and Driscoll Health Plan for their contributions to their Binational Health Month events. Additionally, Eagle Pass benefited from information and resources provided by MHP Salud, Chicanos por la causa, WIC, AHIA, Border Federal Credit Union, Swart, New Life Home Health Service, Eagle Pass city library, Eagle Dynamic, and United Medical Center.

The bandana created for BHW 2022

The Ventanilla de Salud in Del Rio would also like to thank the Trinational Council integrated by Consulate of Mexico, Consulate of Guatemala, Texas Department of Health Services, BCFS Health and Human Services, W.I.C. that participate in The Binational Health Fair.  Special thanks to National Kidney Foundation, South West Texas Junior College (SWTJC), The Ryan White Foundation, Methodist Health Care Ministries, Maverick County Hospital, Workforce Solutions, City of Del Rio, Border Federal Credit Union, Casa de la Cultura, the Second Baptist Church of San Angelo. Dr. Laura Chami, Dr. Gerardo Bernal, PsyD Sandra Dominguez, Zin Nelda Tarango.