Travel ban keeping children from medical care, professionals from helping them

The ban could have an impact on the St. Louis medical community.

President Donald Trump’s travel ban is about to go into full effect as judicial stays on the executive order are set to run out this weekend.

The International Institute of St. Louis says, staff picked up the last group of refugees they expect to help for quite a while early this morning.

Meanwhile, children in need of medical care are left waiting in countries targeted by the travel ban.

Last year, just over 350 children from all over the world came to St. Louis Children’s Hospital for care.

Some of those children came from the seven predominantly-Muslim countries that are the focus of President Trump’s travel ban.

According to James Lee, coordinator for international patients and staff, the travel ban has had an impact on at least two children already.

“It is terribly unfair to them that an arbitrary decision on our part is affecting their lives,” said Lee. “It breaks our heart; the order in itself, it affects real people, their well-being, and their lives.”

The two children that have been impacted are girls from Yemen. One of them requires a neurosurgery and another has hearing loss that could have been fixed.

“In Yemen, most of the hospitals have been destroyed,” said Lee. “They’re finding it difficult just to get us the medical records we need to review, because of the bombing and the hospital where they’ve been going doesn’t exist anymore.”

The executive order goes beyond affecting just children from other countries, it could actually affect American kids.

The hospital has several staff members from countries on the banned list, they are concerned about their future here.

One man is from Iran. It took a great deal to get him here and now, because of the order, he cannot risk leaving.

“He’s concerned how this will affect him moving forward and when it comes time to renew his visa, will he be forced to go home,” said Lee.

The loss of the expertise these staff members have could mean the difference in the life or death of children.

There is hope, however. The executive order does provide some exceptions that allows entry for some people from the banned countries entry.

Securing those exceptions could prove to be a long, arduous process.

According to Lee, that process is worth the effort to explore but only if the disease is not immediately life-threatening.

The ban has not been in place long enough for Lee to determine how difficult working through the bureaucratic channels will be.

(© 2017 KSDK)


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