CANCUN — An American woman who had emergency heart surgery in Cancun is back in Indiana after a dispute with the hospital that resulted in her family’s claims that she was not being discharged until her bills were paid.
Dixie Stinson of Lafayette, Indiana and her relatives arrived home at Indianapolis International Airport late Tuesday Aug. 9. They say they’re happy to be home after a medical emergency turned into an even bigger nightmare.
Stinson suffered a heart attack last week in Cancun, while she was there for her granddaughter’s wedding. Throughout her treatment, she racked up more than $100,000 USD in medical costs.
“When they wanted to do the surgery to clear the blockage, my daughter had to take $24,000 off of her credit cards,” Stinson told reporters in Indiana.
Her family alleges the hospital would not discharge her and even threatened jail time if they didn’t pay the bill in full. At the request of the family, an Indiana congressman intervened in the dispute and may have helped to break the logjam.
“We had some pretty scary moments…my husband did, with a lot of things that I didn’t realize were happening,” Stinson said. “They were saying that if it didn’t get paid, that I could not go home. The bill came to over $111,000 for the two stents.”
The hospital has denied the family’s claims.
A GoFundMe page set up to help cover the Stinsons’ costs has raised $30,000.
“It really made my heart feel warm that people, some of them we didn’t even know, would give up their money to help us out with our medical bills,” Stinson said.
After allegations of the hospital threatening not to release her until the bills were paid, Stinson was discharged from the AmeriMed hospital in Cancun over the weekend.
Gabriela Martínez Hernández, an attorney for the hospital, said in a statement that the hospital “never has, and never will, refuse to release a nonpaying patient for financial reasons. It is unethical, and it is against the law.”
She also said that the family requested services in writing, despite their lack of funds and insurance coverage, and had “full knowledge of the implications therein.”
Hernández added that “no treatment or intervention was withheld for financial reasons” and that the hospital has had “open and fluid communication with Mérida-based Consular Officer Suzanne McGuire.”
Angel Vazquez Vazquez, treasurer of the Medical College of Quintana Roo, says that there are many complaints by foreigners regarding abusive charges for medical services, but very few complaints regarding abusive practices.
He adds that tourists can go to their embassy or consulate, PROFECO or the Medical Collage itself as each of these entities has the legal power to intervene.
Husband Mo Stinson says he expectes his wife’s medical insurance to reimburse about $50,000 of the expenses. He also said that, “If nothing else comes out of this, I just want people to know that they should get traveler’s insurance.”
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