It’s Not Our Responsibility To Provide Health Care For the World.

The New York Times is running a poor, poor, pitiful me story about an illegal immigrant who, happily, was deported by a hospital that was sued in return for doing a good deed,

Eight years ago, (Luis Alberto) Jimenez, now 35, an illegal immigrant working as a gardener in Stuart, Fla., suffered devastating injuries in a car crash with a drunken Floridian. A community hospital saved his life, twice, and, after failing to find a rehabilitation center willing to accept an uninsured patient, kept him as a ward for years at a cost of $1.5 million.

What happened next set the stage for a legal battle with nationwide repercussions: Jimenez was deported, not by the federal government but by Martin Memorial Hospital. After winning a state court order that would later be declared invalid, Martin Memorial leased an air ambulance for $30,000 and “forcibly returned him to his home country,” as one hospital administrator described it.

Since returning home, Jimenez, who sustained a traumatic brain injury, has received no medical care or medication — just Alka-Seltzer and prayer, said his 72-year-old mother. In the past year, his condition has deteriorated with routine seizures.

…Some advocates for immigrants see these repatriations as a kind of international patient dumping.

Hospital administrators view such cases as costly, burdensome patient transfers that force them to shoulder responsibility for the dysfunctional immigration and health-care systems. In many cases, they said, the only alternative to repatriation is keeping patients indefinitely in acute-care hospitals.

“What that does for us, it puts a strain on our system, where we’re unable to provide adequate care for our own citizens,” said Alan Kelly, vice president of Scottsdale Healthcare in Arizona.

….In Jimenez’s case, the hospital’s doctors determined appropriate post-hospital care meant traumatic-brain-injury rehabilitation.

Hospital-discharge planners searched to no avail for a rehabilitation program or nursing home.

Michael Banks, a local lawyer representing Jimenez’s guardian — a cousin by marriage — took the position that the hospital had a responsibility to provide Jimenez with the rehabilitation, even if it meant paying a rehabilitation center.

But the hospital declined, as Lord put it, “to take out our checkbook” and subsidize Jimenez’s care at another institution. “Once you take that step, for how long are you going to do that — a year, 10 years, 50 years?”

Eventually, the Guatemalan health minister wrote a letter assuring Martin Memorial that his country was prepared to care for Jimenez.

After the guardian and the hospital reached an impasse, Martin Memorial took the matter to court, asking a state judge to compel relatives to cooperate with its repatriation plan. In June 2003, a hearing was held before Circuit Judge John Fennelly.

George Bovie III, a lawyer for Martin Memorial, told the judge: “This is a case about care for a man in this country illegally who has reached maximum medical improvement at our hospital and is ready to be discharged and whose home government” is prepared to receive and treat him.

Banks said in response, “Your Honor, this is a case about a hospital that has failed to do its job properly,” adding that the hospital sought to “have this court legitimize its patient dumping.”

By the time of the hearing, Jimenez was essentially a boarder at the hospital, wheeling around the hallways and hanging out at the nursing stations.

Diana Gregory, a nurse who supervises case management and discharge planning, said in a recent interview that Jimenez became “like family” to hospital workers, who bought him birthday cakes, knitted him blankets and gave him toys.

According to hospital records, however, it was not all pastries and presents. Jimenez grew depressed and showed signs of regression. Gregory said Jimenez developed some disturbing habits, including spitting, yelling, kicking and defecating on the floor.

So, let’s see.

We have an illegal alien who’s not supposed to be here in the first place, without health care, who gets hurt. A hospital spends $1.5 million dollars taking care of him, costs that will likely be passed on to American customers of the hospital, to treat a guy who spits, yells, kicks, and defecates on the floor. Then, after shipping him back to his own country, where he should have been all along, they’re accused of being heartless and are being sued by a parasitic lawyer and the illegal’s family.

It’s understandable that people may have sympathy for Luis Alberto Jimenez, but sympathy only goes so far. He wasn’t supposed to be here. It’s not the hospital’s job to take care of the guy for the rest of his life. Americans who go to that hospital shouldn’t have to pay more money to cover the costs racked up by people who shouldn’t even be in this country.

Luis Alberto Jimenez is a Guatemalan citizen and he should be right where he is; back in Guatemala. If the treatment there isn’t adequate, I hate to say this, but it’s not our problem. The reality is that there are billions — and that’s billions with a “b” — of people who don’t get the same quality of medical care in their home countries that they would get if they were citizens of the United States — even indigent citizens of the United States. As sad as that is, we don’t have the time, the money, or the responsibility to provide health care for them — or for Luis Alberto Jimenez, particularly when we have Americans complaining about how expensive our health care is every day.

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