Mother in coma at LVHN facing deportation
ALLENTOWN, Pa. — A Dominican mother in a coma at Lehigh Valley Health Network could face medical deportation as soon as Wednesday.
The 46-year-old woman’s husband and immigration advocacy groups are calling on the hospital to keep her in Allentown.
- A Dominican woman faces medical deportation in the Lehigh Valley
- She was placed in a medical induced coma after a procedure for an aneurysm
- Her family is fighting to keep her in Allentown
The patient, a mother of two being referred to as “S.C.," was taken to Lehigh Valley Health Network in December to be treated for severe headaches. Doctors found an aneurysm.
Her husband, Junior Rivas, 52, said complications during surgery resulted in his wife being put into a coma.
Now because of the patient’s undocumented status and lack of health insurance, Rivera said the hospital administration told him they may have to deport her from their Cedar Crest campus to the Dominican Republic.
“The doctors informed me that they would ‘clip’ the aneurysm, a procedure that they assured me would be minimally invasive. The next day in the afternoon they called me to inform me that my wife needed surgery,” Rivera said.
“The operation lasted between 7 to 8 hours and in the last few hours, they convinced me to go home. When I got home they called me because there had been complications in the surgery and my wife had suffered a stroke.
"They informed me that she was in critical condition. After surgery she was induced into a coma.”
"The hospital doesn't want you uninsured, the hospital doesn't want to pay for your care, so they instead charter a plane for thousands of dollars to deport people and sort of send them back to their country."Adrianna Torres-Garcia, deputy director, Free Migration Project
"The hospital doesn't want you uninsured, the hospital doesn't want to pay for your care, so they instead charter a plane for thousands of dollars to deport people and sort of send them back to their country,” said Adrianna Torres-Garcia, deputy director of the groupFree Migration Project, a group working to keep the patient in the United States.
“We're asking for the threat of deportation to be removed and, number two, for more time for this family to find the suitable option.
"Finally, for them to keep giving her the healthcare that she needs to survive in order for us to find the suitable option and move her from that hospital."
Free Migration Project is a small nonprofit organization based in Philadelphia. They provide immigration legal services, education and research, and organize around different topics within the immigration world.
Torres-Garcia said the hospital administration has given the family a deadline of Wednesday, March 8, for medical deportation.
“We're just asking the hospital right now to cooperate with us and keep providing the health care that she needs to survive in order for us to find a placement for her and so she could have transferred there instead of just deporting her to the Dominican Republic,” Torres-Garcia said.
Lehigh Valley Health Network responded to a request for comment by saying, “in order to meet our legal obligations to protect the privacy of our patients, we cannot comment on care for any individual who may have received treatment or services at LVHN.
"LVHN works tirelessly with patients and their families to ensure they receive appropriate care.”
Torres-Garcia said her group successfully fought another medical deportation in 2020. She said she believes medical transport companies push for medical deportation because of the money involved.
An online petition has been setup for "S.C." online through ActionNetwork.org
Read Junior Rivas' latest statement here: