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More People Seek Medical Help in Harlingen Shelter

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HARLINGEN – Staff at a Cameron County shelter said colder temperatures are causing more people to seek medical help at their facility.

Loaves & Fishes’ Great Physician Healthy Living Clinic in Harlingen has seen a large number of people come in to use their service. The center operates with nurses five days a week and a physician three days a week. It also functions by donations from the community.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS spoke to Dr. Stephen Robinson who said the weather aggravates health problems faced by those who live in the streets or are in a home without heating. He said he’s seen an uptick in illnesses related to the temperatures like respiratory problems or strep throat.

“We are getting to see a lot more viral illnesses that are going around, particularly upper respiratory illness,” he said. “We’ll see lots of wounds and infections, sore throats… that sort of thing. When the cold weather hits, we tend to see more of those.”

Cameron County resident Eva Hermida Garcia said she knows she can turn to the clinic when she falls ill. Without access to health insurance, there are next to no options for her when she is in need.

Loaves & Fishes Director Bill Reagan said health problems are what often lead those in his clinic to other very hard times.

“Homelessness and health issues are closely related to each other. Many people become homeless because they’ve been sick. They’ve been in the hospital,” he said. “They can’t afford to pay their bills. They can’t afford to go to work, and so they end up homeless because of that.”

Dr. Robinson offered the following advice on what someone can do if they’re out in the cold at night:

  • In order to avoid health problems, people should stay inside in a heated facility.
  • Avoid using anything that is not meant to be a heater for a home, such as an oven.
  • It is not advised to use an older space heater as well.
  • Stay out of the wind if you must walk outside and keep yourself hydrated with warm liquids.

If you know of anyone who is homeless or someone who is living in a place without heat, you can help them contact the clinic at 956-423-1014. 

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