The Montgomery County Commissioners have approved using a federal grant to fund a prenatal care clinic at Montgomery Hospital in Norristown. Chairman Jim Matthews, who joined his colleagues in voting for it Thursday, said Montgomery and Philadelphia are the only counties in the area that have the program, so many undocumented immigrants use it.
“If we’re one of only two in the area, we have a growing undocumented population and a growing problem, and I know that Montgomery and Philly are the only two offering this prenatal service, and the word gets out.”
He said Norristown has become a beacon for undocumented Mexican farm workers from the corn and bean fields of Schuylkill County to the mushroom capital of the world in Chester County, and that troubles him. Montgomery County Health Department Infant Health Coordinator Barbara Hand said it still costs less than letting women go without prenatal care.
“One stay at a children’s hospital for a month will more than make up for the money that we put out to have quality prenatal care and healthy birth outcomes.”
Hand said the demand for the program has increased greatly since Mercy-Suburban Hospital in East Norriton closed its OB-GYN department earlier this year. Matthews said the county needs to continue the program to prevent serious health problems later for babies who become American citizens, and eligible for Medical Assistance, the moment they are born. Vice Chairman Joe Hoeffel said funding the program is less costly in the long run, and the right thing to do morally.