Things That Matter

This Former Farm Worker Is Now A Doctor And Paying It Forward In The Greatest Way Possible

As Latinos, we know that most of our family, friends, and neighbors have all faced struggles. But that as a community we often face those challenges together and come out stronger because of it.

That is exactly what is happening with this doctor in California’s Central Valley.

As a former farmworker, Dr. Bautista understands the struggles that so many migrants face. And he’s made it his mission to help out how he best can.

Credit: @Latinovations / Twitter

This is how you stick up for your community and help out all those who supported you.

In an interview with NBC News, Bautista says he drives by armies of farmworkers on his daily commute to and from his practice outside Fresno.

And he shares a common bond with them: he was once a farm worker himself. As a boy, he picked fruit alongside his parents and nine siblings in Ventura County. The family made $4,000 a year back then, today that’s equivalent to just a little over $30,000.

Bautista told NBC News, “I pledged in medical school to help these people in the farm fields. I knew how it felt not to have anything, not to have the money to go to a doctor.”

Little has changed in the years since he was a farm worker himself.  

Workers still struggle to make ends meet as pay is still abysmal, if they’re ever paid at all. And many farmworkers still lack the transportation, money or time off from work to treat injuries, let alone seek preventive medical care.

And in today’s anti-immigrant political climate, many workers have even more to worry about.

Credit: @latinocfc / Twitter

Many migrants are undocumented and are constantly living in fear that any interaction can lead to deportation. Some are avoiding vaccinations, check-ups, even major treatments, out of fear of being torn from their families and the lives they’ve worked so hard to build.

To make sure that migrants are getting all treatments they need, this doctor treats patients whether or not they have money or legal documents. “We never say no to patients,” he told NBC News.

Farmworkers report feeling secure and say, “He’s one of us.”

Dr. Bautista now has two clinics in the Central Valley and they function as safe havens for immigrants who can come here seeking medical attention without fear or repercussions.

Patients are never asked about their immigration status, and the staffs have set up protocols in case the offices are raided by immigration authorities.

An undocumented mother of five, who has picked oranges in Fresno Country for two decades, told NBC News: “I feel secure with him, he’s one of us.”

Bautista accepts as payment whatever his patients can offer: onions, handmade keychains, eggs, even live chickens.

Credit: @costadaniel / Twitter

Many on Twitter were quick to point out that if the US adopted the human right to health care, with a program like universal healthcare, people wouldn’t have to worry about how they’re going to pay.

Dr. Bautista is inspiring many on Twitter to call out the inequities and discrimination that exist in our healthcare systems.

Credit: @BOLDPAC / Twitter

Immigrants refusing medical care out of fear is a sure sign that our healthcare system is failing the most vulnerable among us.

But thankfully there are people like Dr. Bautista who are doing their part to help the communities that needs him most.

READ: A Look at the World of Migrant Farmworkers through the Eyes of a Child

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