No patient privacy: Texas health workers turn in undocumented woman during gynecology appointment
A mother who showed up at a Texas healthcare clinic for her annual gynecological exam is facing deportation after clinic staffers called authorities and stalled her for them until they arrived.
The Houston Press is reporting that Blanca Borrego and her two daughters were delayed at the Northeast Women’s Healthcare clinic in Atascocita for several hours, before healthcare workers showed the woman to an examination room where authorities entered minutes later and arrested her.
According to Borrego’s oldest daughter, she watched Harris County Sheriff’s deputies march her mother out of the clinic in handcuffs.
“We’re going to take her downtown, she presented a form of false identification,” she recalled the deputy saying, before adding, “She’s going to get deported.”
According to Borrego’s attorney, Clarissa Guajardo, Borrego was a first-time visitor to the clinic to see her doctor with whom she had a previous relationship. After giving clinic workers a fake drivers license she was told to wait as, unbeknownst to her, authorities were called.
Guajardo’s attorney believes that clinic workers may have violated medical privacy laws.
“They took her into that examination room solely for the purpose of being arrested,” Guajardo said in an interview. “I just have a very hard time with that. I think it’s a violation of HIPAA laws.”
While exemptions to HIPAA laws exist they are generally used when a patient threatens to physical harm to himself or others.
According to her family, Borrego is being held in Harris County jail on a $35,000 bond and they are worried that she may be deported if convicted on felony charges of tampering with a government record because she also had a fake Social Security card in her purse.
When pressed by the Houston Press if it is the clinic’s policy to contact authorities if staffers suspect patients of being undocumented immigrants, Memorial Hermann — the parent company of Northwest Women’s Healthcare — spokeswoman Alex Loessin answered, “As you know, because of patient privacy, I am unable to provide comment.”