A US hospital deported an unconscious stroke victim after noticing that the patient was an undocumented immigrant from Poland. Polish health officials are furious that the man was “dumped on their doorstep” before the transfer was approved.
“Imagine being carted around like a sack of potatoes,”
Polish Consul General Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka told the New York
Daily News, describing the incident in which 69-year old
Wladyslaw Haniszewski was unconsciously deported to his homeland.
Haniszewski, who suffers from a blood disease, lived in Perth
Amboy, N.J., for 30 years. He recently lost his job, apartment
and health insurance, and was forced to move into a homeless
shelter, the Daily News reports.
After the man suffered a dangerous stroke, a friend named Jerzy
Jedra took him to the New Jersey hospital for treatment. When
officials at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital noticed
that the patient had no health insurance and lived in the US
without documentation, they sent the comatose man to Poland. US
hospitals are legally required to provide emergency care to
anyone who needs it, but are allowed to deport stabilized
But in order to deport someone, a US hospital must first get
consent from either the patient, a family member, or a court
guardian. Officials at the Polish consulate claim that no one was
contacted, and that Haniszewski’s family was never informed that
the man was deported.
Meanwhile, Haniszewski was left at the doorstep of a hospital in
Boleslawiec, Poland. The facility is now being forced to take
care of the man’s medical payments, which have cost “a few
hundred dollars” a day, the hospital’s deputy director told
Junczyk-Ziomecka, who works at the Polish consulate in New York
City, said she was trying to help the comatose man, only to
realize last week that he was gone. Polish officials are furious
about the deportation, especially since the 69-year-old patient
was not in a healthy state to sign off on the transfer.
“Behind our backs they transported the unconscious man to
Poland,” she told TVN, noting that she was most furious about
the hospital’s decision to dump the man at a facility in Poland.
“I cannot imagine such a situation that the decision about
transporting an unconscious person could be made without
agreement. Between the two institutions must be a contract, there
must be documents. You cannot simply leave a patient at the door
and drive away.”
At least 800 people have been deported from US hospitals without
consent over the past six years in 15 states, the Associated
Press reported in April. Medical repatriation has become
increasingly common, but AP suggests that the actual number of
such hospital deportations is much higher. Some health advocates
are afraid that repatriations will occur more frequently after
major components of Obamacare are implemented in 2014, since the
US government will reduce its payments to hospitals that care for
large numbers of uninsured patients.
Shena Erlington, director of the Health Justice Program, told the
Daily News that although hospitals may face the burden of paying
for uninsured patients, medical care providers should not have
the ability to deport patients.
“It’s an incredibly disturbing case,” Lori Nessel,
director of the Center for Social Justice at Seton Hall
University School of Law, said about the Haniszewski
repatriation. “This kind of actions seems clearly illegal and
also not ethical, but it’s hard to bring a legal action.”
The New Jersey hospital denies any wrongdoing and claims that the
patient was informed of his discharge and care plan. The patient
is awake, but is unable to speak or communicate with doctors.
This article originally appeared on: RT