El Centro de Corazón, a distinguished Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) in Houston’s East End, has joined other key service providers in a planning cohort convened by the Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative (HILSC) to develop a comprehensive and innovative strategy for improving access to healthcare for immigrants. HILSC has awarded El Centro $25,000 for El Centro’s participation, which will bring expertise in health care, community outreach, education, and advocacy to the cohort so that immigrant families, including those impacted by legal status and Public Charge policies, are not excluded from health care opportunities.

While its staff and providers do not ask about documentation status when caring for patients, El Centro understands that many of its patients and East End area residents fear accessing health care and ancillary services due to the Public Charge rule. As a safety-net provider that cares for the uninsured and underinsured—including the undocumented—El Centro provides a comprehensive range of high quality, accessible, and affordable health care services to low-income children and adults, regardless of their immigration status or their ability to pay.

Given the misinformation around the rule change, many immigrants believe that FQHCs will give their information to authorities, which El Centro continues to diligently combat through education and outreach efforts. Through outreach efforts, El Centro has learned that many immigrants have been hesitant to receive, and have sometimes outright denied, much-needed government benefits such as WIC assistance, in order to avoid being deemed a “public charge.”

El Centro has a strong commitment to ensuring immigrant populations in its patient service area, and more broadly, Houston, have access to health services to help them and their families grow and thrive. By addressing critical health needs and non-clinical issues that affect the health of patients and families, El Centro reduces obstacles for a minority community affected by poverty and limited or no insurance to receive health and health-related services.


About El Centro de Corazón

Founded in 1994, El Centro de Corazón (El Centro) is an accomplished Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) with four health center locations in Houston’s East End and offers a comprehensive range of adult and pediatric health care services for the underserved, uninsured, and underinsured, which includes primary care and family medicine, women’s health, dental, and behavioral health services. El Centro also provides ancillary services to assist patients to overcome barriers to accessing health care. In 2020, El Centro provided direct patient care to 12,012 low-income children and adults for a total of 44,200 patient visits. For more information, visit www.elcentrodecorazon.org