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Press Releases

NYC Health + Hospitals Reaffirms Commitment to Keep Patient Immigration Status Private

Under New Leadership, the Health System Reminds All Immigrant New Yorkers That They Can Seek Care Without Fear

Apr 20, 2018

New York, NY

Mitchell Katz, MD, president and chief executive officer of NYC Health + Hospitals, today reaffirmed the health system’s commitment to protecting the immigration status of New Yorkers accessing health care services across the public health system. To mark Immigrant Heritage Week, Dr. Katz and the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Nisha Agarwal have joined together to reissue a message first published in December 2016, encouraging New Yorkers to seek care without fear of having their immigration status disclosed.

“One of the reasons I am so glad to be back in New York is because of the city’s amazing diversity, made possible by the many wonderful waves of immigrants who have helped make the Big Apple what it is today,” said Mitchell Katz, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of NYC Health + Hospitals. “To mark Immigrant Heritage Week, I am pleased to connect my name to our health system’s commitment, and the commitment of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, to reassure immigrant New Yorkers that we honor and respect them. And we want to be the health care provider of choice for all our immigrants, whether they be first generation, tenth generation, or anything in between.”

“The City is united in our commitment to promoting the health and well-being of all city residents, including immigrant New Yorkers,” said Bitta Mostofi, Acting Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. “During Immigrant Heritage Week 2018, we’re glad to partner with NYC Health + Hospitals to reissue our letter letting New Yorkers know that our public health facilities are open to them regardless of immigration status or ability to pay. Keeping New Yorkers informed, engaged, and healthy is critical to our mission of making NYC the fairest big city in the country.”

Written in 14 languages, the reissued “open letter” assures immigrant New Yorkers that NYC Health + Hospitals remains committed to its mission to serve all New Yorkers, without exception, and regardless of immigration status. The letter underscores NYC Health + Hospitals’ commitment to protect patients’ right to privacy and keep immigrant status completely confidential.

The open letter will be distributed to community and immigrant advocacy organizations, as well as to media across the five boroughs. The letter is available in the top languages spoken by patients in the health system: English, Spanish, French, Haitian Creole, Russian, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Korean, Urdu, Bengali, Polish, Albanian, Hindi, and Arabic. It urges immigrants not to be afraid to go to any public hospital, emergency room, or community-based health center, and reinforces NYC Health + Hospitals’ policy against disclosing patient information.

Similar open letters were issued in 2006, 2007, 2011, and 2016 in response to heightened rhetoric and tensions concerning immigration laws.

To help determine whether uninsured patients are eligible for Medicaid and other available insurance programs, NYC Health + Hospitals financial counseling staff must ask patients for information that may include immigration status, proof of income, home address, and date of birth. This information is kept completely confidential.