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When the Ward is Your Mooring: The Human and Economic Costs of Long-Term Acute Care for Undocumented Immigrants in the U.S. – Nora Kenworthy

January 16, 2012 Leave a comment

Nora Kenworthy
Columbia

recent New York Times article by John Leland recounted the lengthy medical history of Raymond Fok, an uninsured and undocumented immigrant who ended up marooned at New York City’s Downtown Hospital for 19 months after surviving a stroke. Although suffering from chronic health problems, including kidney failure, and initially in need of acute care, Mr. Fok remained in the hospital long after his initial emergency because he had no other place to go.

Without insurance or public benefits, numerous immigrants in the U.S. find similar fates in public hospitals, learning that without chronic or community-based services to assist them in recovery, they cannot be discharged. Rather than qualifying for a home health aide, or getting transferred to a nursing home, Mr. Fok’s status left him in the expensive care of an already cash-strapped public hospital. As Leland writes: “Mr. Fok’s immigration status never kept him from receiving treatment, but it helped make sure that his care would be delivered in the most expensive setting possible and in a place no one wants to spend more time than necessary.” Read more…