RN Response Network/National Nurses United Report on Border Conditions

Sept. 13, 2019 – The Registered Nurse Response Network (RNRN) has released Compassion Without Borders: RNs Report on the Public Health Crisis at the Border, announced RNRN, National Nurses United (NNU), and California Nurses Foundation (CNF). The report outlines the health crisis at the border, which the government created.

The 20-page report highlights nurses’ observations and news reports on the conditions at the United States’ southwestern border and makes concrete recommendations calling for humanitarian standards in border detention facilities. The report details the appalling conditions in ICE and Border Patrol detention centers where asylum seekers were not given sufficient amounts of food or drinking water during detention or provided basic hygiene. Some conditions meet the standards for torture. “I had to take a little 7-year-old boy to the hospital,” said Fabiola Chevarria, an RN from Virginia. “He had sores in his mouth because he was so dehydrated and his mouth was so dry. When he asked border agents for water, they told him, no.”

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The report details firsthand accounts shared with nurses by asylum seekers, and confirms the many reports of inhumane treatment in border detention facilities of children, women, and entire families. “They didn’t have any blankets in detention. They slept on the cold floor, which is not conducive to healing,” said Missy Gilbert, an RN from Maryland. “It makes healthy people sick.”

RNRN—a disaster relief program sponsored by NNU and CNF—deployed 20 teams of volunteer registered nurses, more than 50 RNs from 16 states around the country to provide basic medical care at border shelters to asylum seekers from January to July 2019.

Download the report here.

Several RNRN volunteers from around the country will be attending the Global Nurses Solidarity Assembly, a conference of more than 1,500 attendees that is taking place in San Francisco from Sept. 12–15 and organized by California Nurses Association and the National Nurses Organizing Committee. RNRN currently has nurses deployed in the Bahamas, assisting victims of Hurricane Dorian.

The Registered Nurse Response Network, a disaster relief program sponsored by National Nurses United and the California Nurses Foundation, has a volunteer base of more than 26,000 RNs representing all U.S. states and territories as well as 21 countries around the world. RNRN volunteer nurses have cared for thousands of patients during disaster relief and humanitarian assistance deployments that include the South Asian tsunami (2004); Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (2005); the Haiti earthquake (2010); Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda (2013); Continuing Promise with the Department of Defense (2010, 2015); Hurricanes Harvey and Maria (2017); Volcan de Fuego Relief in Guatemala (2018), Hurricane Michael (2018); and the Camp Fire in Butte County, Calif. (2018); the Arizona and Texas border to provide medical care to asylum seekers (2019); and Hurricane Dorian (2019).