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Stroke Patient Falls Into a Coma in N.J., Wakes Up in Poland


“Imagine being carted around like a sack of potatoes."

A man who suffered a stroke and fell into a coma in New Jersey a few days later later found himself in Poland.

Why? Because he was uninsured and an illegal immigrant.

Wladyslaw Haniszewski, who according to the New York Daily News had lived in the U.S. for more than 30 years, and was sent back to Poland under the legal practice of medical repatriation.

Earlier this year, TheBlaze noted a report from the Associated Press about the practice where hospitals deport stabilized patients -- some still in comas -- to their home countries due to the high cost of having to continue their care as uninsured in the U.S.:

Hospitals are legally mandated to care for all patients who need emergency treatment, regardless of citizenship status or ability to pay. But once a patient is stabilized, that funding ceases, along with the requirement to provide care. Many immigrant workers without citizenship are ineligible for Medicaid, the government’s insurance program for the poor and elderly.

That’s why hospitals often try to send those patients to rehabilitation centers and nursing homes back in their home countries.

Civil rights groups say the practice violates U.S. and international laws and unfairly targets one of the nation’s most defenseless populations.

“They don’t have advocates, and they don’t have people who will speak on their behalf,” said Miami attorney John De Leon, who has been arguing such cases for a decade.

Estimating the number of cases is difficult since no government agency or organization keeps track.

The Center for Social Justice and New York Lawyers for the Public Interest have documented at least 600 immigrants who were involuntarily removed in the past five years for medical reasons. The figure is based on data from hospitals, humanitarian organizations, news reports and immigrant advocates who cited specific cases. But the actual number is believed to be significantly higher because many more cases almost certainly go unreported.

medical repatriation In this Thursday March 7, 2013 photo, Jacinto Rodriguez Cruz, 49, leaves his home on a wheelchair with the help of his wife, Belen Hernandez in the city of Veracruz, Mexico. Cruz and another friend suffered serious injuries during a car accident last May 2008 in northwestern Iowa. After their employers insurance coverage ran out, Cruz, who was not a legal citizen, was placed on a private airplane and flown to Mexico still comatose and unable to discuss his care or voice his protest. Hospitals confronted with absorbing the cost of caring for uninsured seriously injured immigrants are quietly deporting them, often unconscious and unable to protest, back to their home countries. (Photo: AP/Felix Marquez)

U.S. Immigration and Customs is not involved in these medical repatriations.

As for Haniszewski's case, the Daily News reported diplomats and others being upset at how the 69-year-old was returned to his home country.

“Imagine being carted around like a sack of potatoes," Consul General Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka said, according the Daily News.

Officials claim that none of Haniszewski's friends or family were contacted, per standard practice, before he was sent back. But spokesman Peter Haigney for Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital said the proper procedures were followed.

“The individual was informed regarding his discharge plan and care. As the hospital's understanding of the facts differs from the published reports, we are conducting a thorough review of the procedures and communications surrounding this gentleman's care,” Haigney told the Daily News.

Junczyk-Ziomecka said Haniszewski currently is awake but can't communicate, although he will "smile from time to time." A friend of his from New Jersey, Jerzy Jedra, told the Daily News Haniszewski has a blood disease, at some in the U.S. lost his job and his apartment, and was last living in a shelter.

(H/T: Daily Mail)



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