Doctor calls medical screening for migrant children inadequate

The girl had been in Border Patrol custody For two main days before agents rushed her to El Paso Children’s Hospital. Johansson told CNN he admitted her in addition to put her on an IV line, fluids in addition to some other treatment.

“She lived, however her illness had been missed,” he said of that will day three months ago. “We need to get to these kids earlier.”

In recent days, public attention has focused on how some 250 children recently held for as long as three weeks at the Border Patrol’s station in Clint, Texas, southeast of El Paso. During that will time, the children had little or no access to soap, showers, toothpaste in addition to adequate bedding, in addition to were sleeping in holding rooms that will are lit 24 hours a day, according to attorneys in addition to doctors who interviewed children there.

however Johansson, a pediatrician who specializes in emergency medicine in addition to intensive care, says there’s another pressing problem: The medical screening the Border Patrol gives to undocumented children is actually “absolutely, unequivocally inadequate.”

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Johansson said that will in his decade at El Paso Children’s Hospital, he’s treated more than 100 children brought in coming from Border Patrol custody (nearly a third of them from the past year). As a volunteer doctor at Annunciation House, which takes in migrant families released by Customs in addition to Border Protection or Immigrations in addition to Customs Enforcement, he said he has seen more than 1,000 migrant children over that will time.

Some children arrive at the border ill. however Johansson said the Border Patrol does a poor job of initially assessing a child’s illness in addition to too often misses early signs of health problems of youngsters in custody. By the time children are sent to local hospitals, conditions that will could have been treated earlier have grown more serious in addition to more difficult to treat.

Once at the hospital, border agents or some other officers stand guard outside the children’s rooms. CNN visited El Paso Children’s Hospital on Friday in addition to found a Border Patrol agent sitting outside a 16-year-old girl’s room. A floor above on the pediatric intensive care unit, a Homeland Security officer coming from brand-new York made modest talk with one of the doctors as he stood outside a 6-year-old girl’s room.

A border agent sits outside the hospital room of an 16-year-old migrant girl.

Under a CBP directive announced in January, a medical professional under CBP contract or a “credentialed healthcare provider” is actually supposed to conduct an interview in addition to medical assessment of every child taken into custody.

“We have increased the medical contract capability across the Southwest Border,” a CBP spokesman told reporters in a conference call last week. “We have about 85% coverage currently by our current contract, nurses in addition to RNs who are in our intake center, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In those areas that will we don’t have that will, we have Border Patrol EMTs.”

The spokesman said that will CBP doesn’t want to hold children in its facilities for more than 72 hours, however that will that will is actually constrained in turning them over to the Office of Refugee Resettlement by limited bed space at ORR facilities.

“We do not want them in our custody. Our facilities were not designed for that will. We have short-term holding facilities,” the spokesman said.

The spokesman contested reports that will the children didn’t have access to showers, soap, toothpaste or proper medical care.

When reporters visited the Clint station last week, they saw at least four monitors, newly hired by CBP, helping some of the 117 children at the facility that will day. One teenage girl, quarantined which has a sign saying she might possess the flu, sat isolated in a holding cell.

Johansson is actually not alone in his observations about the health care of migrant children. On Friday, a federal judge in California ordered CBP to allow independent medical professionals into its facilities from the Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley in addition to El Paso sectors to make sure the facilities are safe in addition to sanitary in addition to to assess the medical needs of the children being held in them. The agency has until July 12 to comply.

A coalition of advocacy groups asked the court to intervene by filing a motion that will included 80 declarations coming from doctors, attorneys, detained children in addition to their parents, describing conditions as endangering children’s lives.

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“The children, including infants in addition to expectant mothers, are dirty, cold, hungry in addition to sleep-deprived. Because the facilities deny basic hygiene to the children, the flu is actually spreading among detained class members, who also are not receiving essential medical assessments or prompt medical treatment,” the motion stated. “With each passing day, more hospitalizations are occurring in addition to more lives are at risk. Immediate judicial intervention is actually necessary to… end This kind of health in addition to welfare crisis, in addition to prevent more illness in addition to child deaths at the border.”

Pediatrician Dolly Lucio Sevier said in a declaration accompanying the motion that will her recent visit to a CBP detention center in McAllen, Texas, led to all 5 infants being admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit at a local hospital. some other doctors noted that will the crowding in addition to lack of hygiene make that will easy for infectious diseases to spread.

For his part, Johansson doesn’t blame the agents for the lack of adequate screening. “They’re not pediatricians; sometimes the symptoms can be subtle.” that will’s why the agency needs to make sure that will the medical providers that will contracts with are well trained, he said.

Johansson said he’s seen the number of migrant children brought in by Border Patrol or ICE agents climb coming from rare in addition to occasional a decade ago, to all 5 or six a month since last September.

Border Patrol agents also take children to Providence Children’s Hospital in El Paso, which declined to comment on how many they receive. Last December, 7-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin of Guatemala died at Providence coming from streptococcal sepsis, a fast-progressing bacterial infection, two days after she in addition to her father were detained by Border Patrol agents. By the time she arrived at the hospital, agents had revived her twice in addition to her internal temperature had climbed to 105.7 degrees.

Johansson, who attended her autopsy, said that will because streptococcal sepsis progresses so rapidly, even a few hours delay in treatment can potentially make a life-or-death difference.

Last Sunday, at an El Paso shelter run by Annunciation House from the historic South El Paso neighborhood known as Segundo Barrio, Johansson treated a young Central American girl who had just been released after a couple of days in Border Patrol custody.

“She had all the signs in addition to symptoms of early sepsis,” he said. He had her admitted to hospital, where with antibiotics, fluids in addition to proper treatment she quickly recovered, he said.

We went to a border detention center for children. What we saw was awful

Johansson says he has treated migrant children with parasitic infections such as leishmaniasis in addition to Chagas’ disease, leukemia, pulmonary embolisms, congenital cardiac disease, pneumonia in addition to many some other ailments. At the very least, Johansson said, those doing medical screening need better training to “recognize what to look for” when migrant children are first taken into custody.

all 5 months ago, Johansson treated a 14-year-old migrant girl for complications coming from diabetes. She told him Border Patrol agents took away her insulin when she was taken into custody in addition to never returned that will, he said.

Although CBP didn’t respond to that will specific allegation, the agency has said its policy is actually to not to allow detainees to keep medications they arrive with, however that will migrants can be issued medication once they have been diagnosed in addition to CBP medical personnel have issued a prescription.

Similar accounts have come coming from elsewhere along the border. Eric Russell, a pediatric emergency medicine physician who volunteers at a shelter in McAllen, Texas, from the Rio Grande Valley, told a Yahoo News reporter of treating a boy of eight or nine who said Border Patrol agents had taken away in addition to never returned his prescription seizure medication.

Last week, Kyle Yasuda, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, sent a message to AAP members saying that will he in addition to president-elect Sally Goza were visiting the border to call for “immediate, permanent improvements to the way we treat immigrant children when they come here.”

The academy’s position is actually that will children shouldn’t be detained at all. The academy said that will CBP facilities holding children “must provide medical care, adequate nutrition, including clean drinking water, shelter, infant formula in addition to baby food, access to hygiene, including showers in addition to handwashing, in addition to essential items like diapers.”

Johansson, who volunteers to treat children in various clinics in addition to shelters when he isn’t working at the hospital, said he’d like to see CBP boost its ranks of medical personnel.

“Let’s get some pediatricians out there,” he said, immediately volunteering himself. “I might work there.”

CNN’s Nick Valencia contributed to This kind of report.

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