An undocumented Guatemalan immigrant identified as AV was on the verge of being “medical repatriated” by Jefferson Torresdale Hospital to a country that is less able to help him. Repatriation has been averted and AV has been transferred to a long-term care facility in the Philadelphia area.
What’s the matter?
After the 48-year-old AV was hit by a motorcycle, he suffered a traumatic brain injury. Although AV is far from exceeding the need for medical coverage, his family remains hopeful because of their trust in the American medical system. He was brought to Jefferson Torresdale in May after suffering broken legs, broken ribs, and severe neurological trauma. On June 23, medical students brought the issue of regression to light by organizing an online petition to stop AV removal. The next day, immigration activists gathered at the hospital to stop any physical attempt to get AV from the hospital to the airport.
After repeated broadcasts of this news in the mediaand upon the arrival of Councilor Helen Gym, it was finally announced that AV would not be returned. A statement from Jefferson Torresdale Hospital denied any plans for AV’s private deportation. The hospital said that all transfers are the result of planning between hospital staff, patients and families.
What is medical repatriation?
It involves the transfer of undocumented patients who need chronic care to their country of origin. Once the immigrant in need of medical assistance has stabilized, insurance companies, doctors, hospital tax offices and administrators make the decision to repatriate the immigrant. This often happens while the patient and family members are unaware of the imminent repatriation.
In the United States, hospitals have a legal mandate to provide emergency care regardless of the patient’s immigration status. The reimbursement that the hospital receives for such treatment is very small. The Federal Medicare programs reimburse the hospital for minimal emergency treatment rates, ignoring the myriad of other benefits that no one pays for.
Health care institutions have long since “medically returned” patients. The immigrant patient is sent home in a privately chartered plane. As is to be expected, medical returns pose a threat to both patients and hospitals. In most countries, the countries to which immigrants have been returned lack adequate medical facilities. For immigrants without papers, repatriation leads to deportation. For hospitals, this can open the door to years of litigation, including the 1983 federal section claims against private and public institutions. Possible allegations the hospital can foresee regarding medical returns include litigation issues, false civil detention allegations, and federal discharge requirement violations.
The practice of repatriation is a violation of human rights. This includes violating the right to a fair trial and due process; the right to life, liberty and personal security; the right to family protection; and the right to maintain health and wellbeing. The repatriation is therefore a serious violation of international and US law.
As the United States deals with the pandemic along with the rest of the world, the number of uninsured immigrants seeking medical treatment is increasing. When medical return is handled with great care and attention, medical return facilities can be more successful.
To learn more about this blog post or have any other immigration issues please contact me at [email protected] or (484) 544-0022.
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