Monday, January 14, 2008

The Patient No One Wants

[Welcome Industry Radar readers!]

For 248 consecutive days and nights, Ritta Wadawu has lain in a hospital bed in the same room on the ninth floor of Grady Memorial Hospital.

Grady Hospital.

The taxpayer funded, "charity" hospital in Atlanta.

Although she is paralyzed, it's not her condition that's kept her at Grady for eight months. She remains there because she has nowhere to go.

Nowhere to go.

No nursing home or rehabilitation center will take her.

That includes nursing homes and rehab centers that accept Medicaid patients.

She has no official immigration status in the United States. The government allows her to stay for humanitarian reasons – and because the cost of sending her back to Zimbabwe would be too high.

The cost?

An estimated $125,000.

Just to send her back to Zimbabwe.

So how much has her care cost over the last 2 years?

Since the accident that made her a quadriplegic on Dec. 31, 2005, her bills have mounted to more than $1.3 million. There is no end in sight.

What about other options?

At first, Ken Levine, Ritta's immigration lawyer, tried to get her possible deportation dismissed because of her condition. Then he did a U-turn and asked about the possibility of returning her to Zimbabwe to the care of her sister, the nurse. He said he was told the cost of sending her back would be more than the government was willing to spend.

In limbo.

And what about Medicaid payments?

Hospital spokeswoman Denise Simpson said Grady "hasn't been paid a penny" on either of Ritta's hospital bills. "Nothing's come in as far as we can tell," she said.

Even Medicaid, the taxpayer safety net for health care, has failed to provide.

Let's see a show of hands. Who wants a government run health care system?
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