Reno, NV - "Over the past several years, there's been a rise in unlicensed medical care in Nevada's Latino community," says Drew Bradley, outreach coordinator of UNR's Latino Research Center.
That's why the Center is trying to get the word out. On Monday, officials launched an awareness campaign that's putting out posters - in Spanish and English - in pharmacies throughout the state.
"We believe this is a nationwide problem, but we are really seeing this in Nevada because 26 to 27 percent of our population is Latino," says Bradley.
Just last month, Raul Rodriguez was arrested and booked into the Washoe County Jail after authorities say he performed dental work on someone without a license. His patient had to be rushed to the Intensive Care Unit. And last year, a Sparks man admitted to doing surgery on family and friends even though he wasn't licensed.
Officials say Latinos are especially susceptible to becoming victims.
"There are some cultural differences, there's an access to care issue obviously. We've got problems with affordability, there's no one reason," says Frankie Sue Del Papa, former Nevada Attorney General, who was at Monday's press conference.
And a lot of times, Latino victims won't report what's happened.
"Because some of the places they could call to report the incidents will ask for address, phone number, complete name. And some people that were victimized by these actions are undocumented. So they're afraid to come forward and be deported," says Emma Sepulveda, director of the Latino Research Center.
But the Center is hoping more people will come forward once this dialog gets going. There's also a 211 hotline in place where people can call to report someone performing medical procedures without a license.
"You can dial 211 from any phone anywhere in Nevada and be connected to a service that will help you if you've been a victim of one of these unlicensed physicians," says Bradley.
For more information on this campaign or on this growing problem, you can head to www.unr.edu/latinocenter.