News Local/State

NIU Student Creates Website Linking Immigrants To Healthcare Facilities

NIU Student Yosue Perez.

NIU Student Yosue Perez. Jenna Dooley/WNIJ

A Northern Illinois University student created a website that maps out Illinois health care providers for immigrants, regardless of their status.

Yosue Perez, an accounting major from Hanover Park, completed the project through the school's Summer Research Opportunities Program.

He says he has a personal interest in the topic.

"I come from an immigrant family," he said. "Once, my dad had a chest pain problem and he waited a week to get help because he didn't know where to go. For the family... that is terrifying."

The website is separated into three main sections: Safety Net Hospitals, Federally Qualified Health Centers, and Free Clinics.

He found there were many resources connecting immigrants in Chicago and Cook County, but noticed the information wasn't as readily collected for other parts of the state.

"Where you need it the most may be in the south. I was able to make the map so people could see maybe it would be better to go to a health center than to travel all the way to Chicago for a hospital," Perez said.

A screenshot of Perez's website

Photo Credit: Yosue Perez

He said there is a lot of fear that patients will be asked about their immigration status if they seek care, but when he spoke with providers, many said they don't ask about status.

Perez said the project was not intended to offer an opinion on implementing a healthcare system for immigrants.

"It was for [immigrants] to access resources that are available to them. Nobody knows if they are [legal] or not because nobody asks."