In September, the Employee Rights Center will mark one year since it started workshops to educate San Diego residents about immigrant and workplace rights.
Adriana Huerta-Reyes, ERC community health educator, described a typical family she works with: The father lives in a household with four other families and works multiple jobs. Often he works in a physical job like construction, using heavy equipment that can cause physical pain and stress. Or he may be a hotel worker under so much stress that he has nightmares about killing his coworkers.
"We try to repair the stress," Huerta-Reyes said.
To do that Huerta-Reyes facilitates workshops about work-related topics, including disability insurance, the Family and Medical Leave Act, access to health care and unemployment insurance, she said. Workshops average about 32 people.
"The purpose is to educate the community about different topics that link the legal aspects of health," she said.
Although ERC focuses on City Heights, it serves people throughout San Diego. Huerta-Reyes has been working with City Heights residents since 1996 with different organizations, she said. She knows that undocumented health issues are huge.
She estimates that undocumented patients make up a percentage as high as 80 percent of the patients at clinics such as La Maestra, Mid-City Community Clinic and Family Health Centers. That can make navigating changes from health-care reform, or the Affordable Care Act, especially tricky. Huerta said that although Obama Care could expand health-care options for low-income people who are legal residents, clinics that help undocumented residents expect federal funding cuts. Because of that, undocumented residents may have fewer options for health care.
"Those are the people we want to focus on, the people that are going to be just in limbo and not know where to go for service," she said.
Free health workshops
In English and Spanish
To register, call (619) 405 5986
Where: 4265 Fairmount Ave. Suite No. 250
• 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Sept. 27 - Legal rights as tenant or owner
• Oct. 25 - Family law education, including child support, visitation rights and custody
• Nov. 22 - How to apply for the Affordable Care Act, or Obama Care, at Family Health Centers of San Diego and the health services the centers provide