Hispanic population continues to grow across TN

Knoxville (WVLT) -- When you think of the growth in Tennessee's hispanic population, you think of people moving here from another country.

But more than ever, hispanics are being born right here in the volunteer state.

Volunteer TV's Rob Pratt has more on the increase in births and how the healthcare community is dealing with it.

The numbers tell a huge story.

Just since 1990, Tennessee's hispanic birthrate has risen nearly 20 times higher.

Morristown restaurant owner Omar Sanchez was born in Mexico, but his daughter, Reana, was born here. Sanchez says as his family grows, it will happen here, in the state he's grown to love.

Sanchez says, "It's pretty good for my family, my daughter, and everybody. Not much troubles."

According to the State Department of Health, in 1990 there were 444 hispanic babies born in Tennessee. In 2006 alone, there were almost 8,000.

Morristown obstetrician Kim Collinson says when he set up practice here 22 years ago, he often went several months without delivering an hispanic baby.

Now he says there's hardly a week that passes without one.

Collinson says, "I've noticed specifically, in this county, in the last two to three years, a tremendous increase in the number of hispanics that present to the hospital with either very little of no prenatal care, that are taken care of by the on-call physician."

Collinson says that means the doctor often has the difficult task of starting from square one, while overcoming a language barrier.

He says local hospitals have taken on the expense of hiring several full-time interpreters to help.

But the greater expense for hospitals comes from treating patients who don't have insurance, a problem particularly common in the hispanic community."

Collinson says, "When they don't get paid, that cost has to be passed on somewhere, and it's usually passed on to either the people with insurance or the taxpayer in some shape, form, or fashion."

More hispanic births in Tennessee is evidence that more parents are coming here too.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the state's overall hispanic population grew 55 percent between 2000 and 2006.

That makes Tennessee the fourth fastest growing hispanic population in the nation.

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