Quelino Jimenez Ojeda
Photo courtesy of Jesus Vargas
Photo courtesy of Jesus Vargas
In January, a lawyer will file a lawsuit asking for an unspecified amount of compensation against hospital for deporting his client.
By H. Nelson Goodson
December 29, 2010
Oak Lawn, Illinois - On Wednesday afternoon, numerous members and several organizations from the Hispanic community protested in front of the Advocate Christ Medical Center (ACMC), 4440 W. 95th Street in Oak Lawn near Chicago for illegally deporting a quadriplegic undocumented patient back to Mexico. ACMC's repatriation of a patient to eliminate further incurring medical costs is being condemn by members of the Mexican community in Chicago.
The protest included a vigil, which protesters claim that Quelino Jimenez Ojeda, 23, was illegally repatriated (deported) by the hospital in violation of international laws and without the Mexican goverment's legal authorization. Ojeda is originally from Oaxaca, Mexico and in August had been working for an Atlanta based roofing company in the Chicago area when he was injured. He apparently fell to the ground from a ladder located on the fourth floor damaging his spinal cord when he cracked his neck on the fall and became a quadriplegic requiring the use of an artificial respirator to keep him alive.
He was admitted to Advocate Christ Medical Center in August and on December 22, the ACMC hospital medical executive board decided to repatriate Ojeda without his consent and without informing his family, lawyer or the Mexican Consulate in Chicago about the drastic measure. On December 16, Ojeda informed hospital staff that he was refusing to be discharged by an attempt to deport him back to Mexico, where his medical needs won't be provided to survive his condition.
On December 22, Reinaldo Cruz Garcia, the legal guardian for Ojeda and two friends went to visit him at the hospital, but Ojeda was no where to be found. They went to get information from Adam Weber, a social worker at ACMC who neglected to provide them with any information about Ojeda and called security to remove Garcia and two other people from the hospital for inquiring about the whereabouts of Ojeda. Although, they were able to see Ojeda being transported out of the hospital, according to a press release.
Garcia was taken off as the guardian a day before Ojeda was deported when ACMC petitioned a judge in Cook County for his removal. The hospital medical staff upgraded his condition and was discharged the following day with authorization of Ojeda's mother in Mexico. When Garcia and Ana Maria Cruz spoke to his mother in Oaxaca, she denied giving any approval for ACMC to discharge and transport Ojeda to a less efficient hospital in Mexico.
The ACMC hospital officials committed an illegal act of "Dumping," said Chicago Attorney James Geraghty in an interview with the EFE news agency in Mexico. Geraghty prevented Ojeda's repatriation in November when he was hired to represent Ojeda by the Mexican Consulate in Chicago.
In the EFE article Geraghty said, a colleague at the ACMC couldn't confirm who decided for Ojeda to be repatriated without his consent as a result of not having the money to pay for medical costs. No information was provided by Geraghty, if the roofing company had provided insurance for Ojeda.
Ioana Navarrete Pellicer, Department Chief of Protection at the Mexican Consulate in Chicago told EFE that two vice presidents at the ACMC had said they didn't have to comment or give any information concerning Ojeda to the Mexican Consulate. Navarrete is credited for getting Geraghty who provides legal seminers at the consulate to represent Ojeda.
Geraghty confirmed that in January he will file a lawsuit against ACMC asking for an unspecified compensation for the removal of Ojeda, in behave of Ojeda and his family. He said, Ojeda was taken to a hospital in Mexico where they can't provide an artificial respirator for Ojeda to be kept alive, according to EFE.
In a press released issued by the vigil group protesting ACMC's decision to repatriate Ojeda, Horacio Esparza, Executive Director of Progress Center For Independent Living, which advocates for people with disabilities stated, ”Christ Hospital repatriated this patient back to rural Mexico where he will be unable to receive proper medical care for his condition. The hospital acted with out any humanity and violated all medical ethics to save lives.” Esparza is legally blind.
Jesus Vargas of the March 10th Coalition said, ”We will pray for the respect and dignity of are immigrant brothers that suffer accidents that leave them crippled for life.”
Marlene Cruz a 20 year old Hispanic American whose family helped with the care of Quelino stated, “I use to think that Christ hospital was a good place-- but now after what they have done to Quelino-- I feel outraged that this hospital would do something to a person just for not having papers.”
Julie Contreras, LULAC National Immigrant Affairs Commission stated, ”While the President, Senate and Congress of this nation allow the immigration laws to remain broken—human beings who come to this country to work hard for a better life become disposable waste for Corporations like Advocate Health & Hospitals.”
U.S. hospitals who receive Medicare reimbursements must provide emergency care to a patient until they're stabilized and a plan for discharge is filed, under federal law.
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