Collaboration brings immigration-related service


JASPER — Thanks to a partnership between the Latino Collaboration Table and Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center, the hospital will soon begin offering a civil surgeon service.

The service includes medical exams for individuals who are applying to change their status with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Dr. Stan Tretter applied for and received the civil surgeon designation through USCIS, and will begin performing the exams — which do include a fee — at Memorial Health St. Charles, 1950 St. Charles St., Jasper.

“These exams are done differently than any routine medical examination,” said Tretter, who is chief medical officer at Memorial Hospital.

In addition to the physical exam, a civil surgeon’s exam includes an evaluation of the patient’s medical history, testing for communicable diseases and an assessment of the patient’s vaccination status.

The idea of bringing a civil surgeon service to Dubois County first came up when the Latino Collaboration Table began hosting community meetings in late 2017. Immigration was a common theme from the meetings, so the group — which formed to address the needs of local companies, schools and the Latino community — formed a committee to look at the issue. Among other things, the committee decided the area needed a civil surgeon.

“In our area, as we began looking at this, there are designated civil surgeons in the bigger cities in our region — Louisville, Evansville, Bloomington — but nothing local,” Tretter said. “People would have to travel quite a distance to get these services. So we felt like there was certainly a need to provide that locally for those individuals in our community.”

Tretter stressed that establishing the service has been a collaboration among many groups, such as the hospital, the collaboration table and the Dubois County Health Department.

“It really isn’t any one organization that can do all of this,” he said. “It really does take the community to come together to provide these kind of services.”

Donna Oeding, who is part of the Latino Collaboration Table, said the group has worked a long time to gain the trust of Latino community members.

“We knew it would take us a while for them to say, ‘OK, we’re going to trust you to do this,’” Oeding said. “The Latino Fest has worked. The ALASI group has worked really closely with us, and we’re now building that trust and you can see that now starting to blossom into these new programs.”

Individuals will be charged one global fee in advance of the civil surgeon exam, according to Tretter. The fee will cover costs of the exam, including physician services, required diagnostic tests and paperwork completion. If an exam uncovers any additional medical needs, or if any other treatments or referrals are needed, those will incur additional costs.

To learn more about Memorial Hospital’s civil surgeon service — which is available for anyone who is applying to change their status with USCIS, not only Latinos — or to make an appointment, call Memorial Health St. Charles at 812-996-6050.

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