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Christian hospital accused of cruelly deporting sick patient to die

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
April 23rd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

According to a report by the Associated Press, American hospitals have sent over 600 illegal immigrants back to their home countries to avoid the costs of long-term care in cases of serious illness and injury.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to the AP, The center for Social Justice at Seaton Hall University has documented several cases of what is termed "medical repatriation." Patents have been sent back to their home countries including El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Lithuania, Mexico, the Philippines, and South Korea.

One particularly upsetting case involved Quelino Ojeda Jimenez, who according to The Chicago Tribune reported suffered severe injuries after falling from a building he was working on at the Midway Airport in 2010. His injuries functionally left him as a quadriplegic and unable to breathe without a ventilator.

Christ Medical Center provided his care for four months, incurring $650,000 in expenses. Three days before Christmas in 2011, Jimenez was put on a chartered flight back to Mexico. Jimenez cried and was unable to speak or protest his move away from his family, especially days before Christmas.

Jimenez was sent to a facility in Mexico that could not provide the care he needed or the filters for his ventilator. Without adequate care, Jimenez soon suffered two heart attacks and septic infection and died on Jan. 2, 2012,less than a few weeks after being deported against his will - by a Christian hospital.

Was this decision consistent with the mission of the overtly Christian, not-for-profit medical center?

Their mission statement reads in part: .to ensure that the mission, values and philosophy rooted in our fundamental understanding of human beings as created in the image of God.

And continues with: Advocates exist to serve. The core values of compassion, equality, excellence, partnership and stewardship guide our actions.

So who called this shot? Who sent a tearful Jimenez to his death, away from his family, in direct contradiction to the teachings of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in Luke 10:25-37, the parable of the Good Samaritan?

It's understood there are a couple layers to this story. The first is that Jimenez was in the country illegally. He shouldn't have been here. So yes, this is a legal issue on the one hand. Yet the legal issue should have been left to the immigration and judicial officials.

It is also a moral issue. It is an ontological issue, in that a self-proclaimed Christian medical facility would send anyone who was gravely ill away from their family and adequate care, to die alone in another country.

The second issue is one of money. Naturally, it sounds astounding to expect a medical institution to bear $650,000 in uncovered expenses when that money can save many other lives. However, this is a function of costs set by an unchecked industry well above what they should truly be. This is a classic case of profit trumping life.

In Christian teaching, we are told not to worry about money, for God provides what we need.

Somebody skipped that day at Sunday school it seems.

What's most alarming is that this case isn't isolated. There are hundreds of others like it.

It is clear that we need to enforce existing immigration laws, while reforming the system to safeguard our borders and ensure that people who come into the country legally have access to equal opportunities including adequate health care. Those who enter illegally should be handled appropriately. However, in no case should any soul, no matter their immigration status, who presents to a medical facility, be deported by decisions of doctors or executives whose interest is financial.

It is especially reprehensible to see a Christian facility treat another human being so.

We need genuine healthcare and immigration reform in our country. Sadly, given the current climate in Washington, neither seems immediately forthcoming.

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