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New Campaign Targets Unlicensed Doctors | News

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New Campaign Targets Unlicensed Doctors

LAS VEGAS -- A new health campaign will soon launch in Nevada aimed at raising awareness among immigrants about unlicensed doctors. According to state officials, the problem goes beyond backroom surgeries and fake doctors to the widespread use of illegal medications.

The new campaign is called "Say No to Underground Doctors." The campaign follows recent cases where people have been hurt or died at the hands of an unlicensed doctor performing procedures or giving out medication.

The Guadalupe Medical Center offers safe and affordable health care. Unfortunately, some patients are not seeking help in centers with licensed health care professionals. Nema Toma came to the center because her funds are limited and she needs medical care.

"No insurance, that's why we are here," Toma said.

She admits there have been times when she's considered going to local shops known as botanicas to get herbs and natural medicines. She says the Latino community tend to go to these sort of businesses because they can talk to someone in the native tongue and there is a level of trust.

"They just trust them," she said.

 "It's important for everyone to understand how dangerous this is," said Cecilia Aldana, an administrator at Guadalupe Medical Center.

8 News NOW went to one botanica off East Charleston where workers said they don't give out medications without a prescription and they don't provide medical treatments.

Aldana says most botanicas are safe but there are some shops that ignore the law. Some even perform illegal operations.

"They don't have any documentation to provide any of these services."

That can lead to tragic incidents like what happened last year to Elena Caro who died after getting a cosmetic surgery from two Columbians who claimed they were licensed doctors.

"It's educating the population and making sure they understand the difference between practicing medicine in their country," Aldana said.

Her clinic has a bilingual staff who say they work to build trust with their patients and keep costs low. A medical visit costs less than $40 for people who have no insurance.

The new state campaign is set to launch in April and will feature radio and TV ads in both English and Spanish and will also provide people with a list of licensed clinics and doctors in their neighborhoods.