Why this hospital is threatening to send a comatose woman back to her home country

Immigration activists are trying to stop a Pennsylvania hospital from sending a comatose woman back to the Dominican Republic, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported March 5.

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 Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest in Allentown, Pa.

"Through this whole process, the doctors have been excellent in taking care of my wife," her husband, Junior Rivas, said in the report. "However, the hospital administration has become hostile toward me and my family."

On Feb. 27, the hospital told S.C.'s 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. He was given 48 hours to decide before the hospital flew S.C. to the Dominican Republic, in a so-called "medical deportation."

On March 2, members of four immigration organizations demonstrated outside the hospital. Hospital administrators gave the family an additional week to make its choice, advocates said.

"Her husband and son have been taking turns watching over her because they're very concerned the hospital is going to move her without their consent," Adrianna Torres-Garcia, deputy director of the Free Migration Project, a Philadelphia-based advocacy group, told the Inquirer. She added that advocates are trying to arrange care outside of Cedar Crest.

The hospital 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."

This is at least the second time in three years a Pennsylvania hospital has sought a medical deportation, in which extremely ill, undocumented patients are sent to their homelands "in what lawyers say are attempts to shed the expense of their ongoing care," according to the report. The term "medical deportation" is a misnomer, as 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 report.

These types of private deportations are unregulated and ungoverned, according to a study from South Orange, N.J.-based Seton Hall University and the Health Justice Program at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest. Hospitals charter private plans to send patients to their home countries, which are often ill-equipped to handle their treatment. Often the patients and families have not given their consent to be removed, the report said.

Read the full Philadelphia Inquirer report here.

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars