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From: [Name Withheld]
I am a case manager in a hospital in the greater Washington D.C area who, as a registered nurse, analyzes charts of inpatients and decides daily if that patient is "acute" and in need of acute care in our hospital as opposed to another level of care, say a nursing facility or a group home.
More and more I find myself reviewing individuals who are not U.S. citizens. In fact, they are illegal aliens. Some have actually come here to be admitted to our hospital because it is located close to the local airport.
Among the illegals I have interviewed in the past year are a Bahamian and Nigerian who needed dialysis (available in the Bahamas but not as easily as here); another Nigerian who required gastric bypass for morbid obesity (available only for fee in Nigeria, if at all); an Indian who needed alcohol detox.
Many of these patients end up staying in our hospital for weeks because they are not considered "safe" discharges.
Who pays? Why, we all do. In our case, the hospital ostensibly picks up the bill but in reality the taxpayers do.
None of these individuals denied their status. All admitted when asked that they are illegal. When I sought action from my administrators, they replied: "We are not a police organization."
I called ICE anonymously to find out what my duty as a citizen is to report aliens in light of the fact that I am also professionally bound by HIPAA that prohibits health professionals from releasing medical information on patients without their permission.
The ICE official told me that she had never been asked this question before and would check with a supervisor and call me back.
I am still waiting.
I know that this is going on daily in all hospitals. The incidents are increasing.
At the same time I am prohibited from helping indigent Medicare patients with prescription needs because "they are insured."