Galveston hospital dismisses illegal immigrant before treatment

Lisa Hellier



John Sealy Hospital, Galveston. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

John Sealy Hospital, Galveston. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Questionable hospital rules sparked a nationwide ethical debate after illegal immigrant Maria Sanchez was released from University of Texas Medical Branch’s John Sealy Hospital before having her scheduled surgery.

Sanchez, 24, had been in the hospital for six days and was going to have surgery in order to remove a banana size tumor that was growing along her spine. The painful tumor caused her to lose the use of her right hand and was hindering movement to her arms and legs.

On Jan. 12, 2011 she was told by a doctor to leave immediately because she was an illegal immigrant. According to Sanchez, the doctor said she should have surgery in Mexico.

Medical records describe her health condition as being a nonmalignant but potentially life-threatening tumor and state that she was released because she was “an undocumented pt [patient] with no insurance.”

“There was nothing ethical about what the doctor or hospital did,” Crystal Pena, public relations/advertising major, said.

There is no rule requiring hospitals to accept or reject illegal immigrants, but once they have accepted a patient they are responsible for treating the person until stable. Though, the definition of a stable patient does not seem to be clearly defined by hospitals.

“Hospitals need to get a little stricter [about patient stability rules] and a lot less biased,” Juan Gallardo, Hispanic Student Association president and secondary education major, said.

Some students are outraged at what the hospital did and share their own strong opinions on the matter.

WT student Imelda Saavedra mentions that immigration topics can be upsetting to her because, “not a lot of people realize how hard it is to be an immigrant.” Saavedra is a resident of the United States who is also proud to be from Mexico.

“I myself believe that it was in ways wrong that they kicked her out after already having admitted her as a patient,” Saavedra said. “I think that in any situation one should have the right to some type of healthcare.”

“In this case, to me, it’s not about helping at all. It is about not having papers and not getting paid. Money should be the last thing on their mind,” Pena said. “They made that poor woman seem like she wasn’t worthy of getting their help because she has no insurance or documents.”

Gallardo is surprised and angered over the incident.

“Since when did being here legally become more important than a human life?” Gallardo asks.

Gallardo wants doctors to think about how they would feel in the situation and believes they would not accept it and wonders why anyone else should.

“I honestly do not think it is fair that a hospital refuse to provide services to anyone. A life is too valuable to be tampered with,” Gallardo said.

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4 Responses to “Galveston hospital dismisses illegal immigrant before treatment”

  1. Linda Darling Langlois on January 7th, 2013 7:24 am

    I why no one is mentioning that she was here illegally and getting hospital services illegally. If we don’t like a law, change it, but what is the use of laws if they are disregarded? There are immigrants who come here for the free ride when many of our own citizens have a difficult time just getting by – never mind getting health care. Mexico has great medical care – at least in the area where one of my friends is living, and he claims it is like that all over. 


  2. Alexandra on January 10th, 2013 12:43 pm

    A person who is present without authorization is authorized to get hospital services.  If a person was driving a car without a license, that is illegally, would you say that the person should not be helped if he was hurt in an accident that he caused, because he was driving illegally?
    People have been working for more than 10 years to get the immigration laws changed, and Congressional Republicans have consistently blocked the changes, despite the fact that President Bush backed these changes.  sometimes bad laws have to be opposed.  If Rosa Parks had not refused to move from the seat that she had taken in the front half of the bus, very possibly we might still be living with segregation. 
    I have worked with immigrants for over 20 years and have met very few who want a “free ride”. 
    Mexico has great health care for people who have a certain amount of money.  Poor people’s health care is very spotty. 


  3. steinbecker on January 11th, 2013 3:04 pm

    Maria Sanchez, a citizen of MEXICO, is entitled to receive any and all medical care that the Government of MEXICO will pay for!  All Srta, Sanchez needs to do is contact the Mexican Consul in Houston, and request their authorization for getting her treatment.  There are multitudes of Mexican Millionaires and Billionaires (e.g. Carlos Slim Megu, net worth SIXTY BILLION U.S. Dollars) who are laughing their heads off at silly bleeding hearts fools who think that renegade citizens of other countries have a perfect right to come to this country, take our jobs, dump their anchor babies on our school systems, collect WIC benefits and even enjoy the custody of our correctional system—-ON OUR DIME!  There is absolutely no reason for a “pathway to citizenship”.  These renegades are already citizens of foreign countries, and the sooner they return and reduce the population of their nations to sustainable numbers, the better off all of us will be.  Amnesty is Treason.  Keep Immigration SAFE, LEGAL, and RARE. 


  4. sARAh CB Pagan on January 20th, 2013 11:00 pm

    “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus
    Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,With conquering limbs astride from land to land;Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall standA mighty woman with a torch, whose flameIs the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles.From her beacon-handGlows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes commandThe air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.“”Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!”” cries sheWith silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”


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