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Volunteer doctors say City of Chicago is set to give them access to migrant shelters

Volunteer doctors say Chicago is set to allow them access to migrant shelters
Volunteer doctors say Chicago is set to allow them access to migrant shelters 02:18

CHICAGO (CBS) -- CBS 2 has learned the City of Chicago is working on a new plan to provide medical care for migrants living in shelters.

The plan is not official from the city just yet. But medical volunteers say they are one step closer to being able to provide basic medical care to the thousands of new arrivals staying at shelters.

For months and months, volunteers had been asking the city for access to migrant shelters to provide basic health care to asylum seekers living in them. That call became even louder when a 5-year-old migrant child staying at a shelter in Pilsen died in September.

Now, it appears their call may have been heard.

An announcement posted on the Mobile Migrant Health Team's social media pages says the Chicago Department of Public Health has given them "official guidance on how volunteer organizations can become authorized to provide health care in shelters."

The announcement adds that the Mobile Migrant Health Team is "working hard to complete the necessary paperwork," and "preparing logistics necessary… for their teams to come back in full force."

For months, the volunteer group composed of medical students and doctors visited police stations where new arrivals were temporarily staying – offering them basic care.

But once migrants moved into city shelters, the city limited who could go inside them.

In December, 5-year-old Jean Carlos Ramirez Rivero – who was staying at the shelter at 21st and Halsted streets – died of what has now been determined to be sepsis due to an infection with streptococcus pyogenes – the bacterium that causes strep throat.

An infection with COVID-19 and infections two other viruses that cause cold or upper respiratory symptoms – adenovirus and rhinovirus/enterovirus – were also contributing factors,

Jean Carlos' death prompted calls from activists and volunteers at the time for more access to a health care and medical staff in migrant shelter facilities to prevent such a thing from happening again.

Some of the migrants at the Pilsen shelter said off camera that they would welcome any addition care.

CBS 2 reached out to the Chicago Department of Public Health on the plan, but there had been no response late Wednesday.

Leadership at the Mobile Migrant Health Team said they are still finalizing a contract with CDPH, and prefer not to comment on the issue right now. It was still unclear late Wednesday when this move could happen – if it is approved.

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