Clinic seeing decline in patients after so-called 'sanctuary city' battle

The clinic serves the uninsured and underinsured. But now there's another concern; it's one that could affect the clinic's bottom line.

AUSTIN - You've seen it on the news: the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids and protests over Senate Bill 4, which requires all Texas law enforcement agencies to comply with ICE detainers.

But now the law has a new target.

Tucked away near Interstate 35 is the People's Community Clinic in Austin.

While KVUE cameras didn't find people in handcuffs or screaming at the top of their lungs, there's been a subtle change at the medical center some health officials attribute to SB 4.

"We anticipated exactly what has happened," said Chief Operating Officer Mary McDowell.

McDowell says since SB 4 was introduced,  a lot of patients have missed their appointments.

She believes It's the fear of deportation that's keeping them home.

Clinic officials say patients with chronic conditions have stopped showing up and many parents no longer bring their kids for regular check-ups, even if those kids are American citizens.

"We usually have a no-show rate, meaning folks who don't come in for their appointments. We have a no-show rate of about 12-15 percent. Right now it's running 16-18 percent," McDowell said

On top of this, for every one percent of no-shows, the clinic could lose up to $8,000.

"We will have a budget shortfall. We would need to find other ways to make that money," McDowell said.

The clinic sees about 13,000 patients a year with 76-percent of those of Hispanic ethnicity.

McDowell hopes lawmakers will keep the needs of clinics in mind.

"Our patients are hardworking they are loving families who just want to stay together, and we want to be able to help them do that," McDowell said.

For more information on the People's Community Clinic, go here

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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