Family sues FL hospital for deporting patient to Guatemala

In a case that is likely to get close national attention, a court in Florida is taking on the controversial practice of deporting illegal immigrants who can't pay their hospital bills. The family of Luis Jimenez, a brain-damaged illegal immigrant who was struck by a drunken driver in 2000, is suing Stuart, FL-based Martin Memorial Medical Center for flying him back to Guatemala rather than provide long-term rehab care itself.

Martin Memorial made the decision to repatriate Jimenez in 2003, when rehab clinics turned him down for care because he had no insurance. At the time, a Florida judge gave the hospital permission to return Jimenez to his home country.

But Jimenez' legal guardian, a cousin by marriage, has sued the hospital for falsely imprisoning Jimenez in the plan during his trip back to Guatemala. The cousin contends that the hospital didn't play fair, shipping Jimenez out before the family had a chance to file what would turn out to be a successful appeal to the original judge's decision.

To learn more about this issue:
- read this Modern Healthcare piece (reg. req.)

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