Pennsylvania hospital agrees not to 'medically deport' comatose woman

A comatose woman will not be sent to the Dominican Republic by the Allentown, Pa.-based Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest administration, The Morning Call reported March 10.

The 46-year-old woman, identified as S.C., experienced complications from surgery after suffering a brain aneurysm in December. She has since been in a coma at the hospital. In late February, the hospital administration told her family they must either pay $500 a day for equipment to care for his wife in their home, find another facility or consent to her removal. The family was given 48 hours to decide before the hospital flew S.C. to the Dominican Republic, in a so-called "medical deportation." 

The woman does not have permanent legal status in the U.S.

Four activist groups demonstrated outside the hospital and the hospital agreed to have open discussion with the family, lawyers and activists, Adrianna Torres-Garcia of the Free Migration Project told The Morning Call. She said the hospital has stopped setting deadlines for the woman's removal.

The woman's husband and two children are working to find financial assistance to move S.C. to a long-term care facility nearby. Activists are monitoring the case and may mobilize again if needed, Ms. Torres-Garcia said. However, they feel the situation is under control and they no longer need to watch S.C.'s situation closely.

The hospital previously said it could not comment on the woman's case but that it "works tirelessly with patients and their families to ensure they receive appropriate care."

Only the federal government can perform deportations. However, in a medical deportation, there is no involvement by federal immigration courts or the Department of Homeland Security. Instead, the decisions are made by insurance companies and hospitals, often without the participation of the patients or their families, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

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