Houston Chronicle: UTMB offers patient a ticket to Mexico

"GALVESTON - Francisco Martinez wasn't happy about the free trip back to Mexico offered to him by a social worker at the University of Texas Medical Branch.

Martinez, 37, of Bacliff, broke his back Aug. 17 after falling off a ladder while working on the roof of a bait shop where he was employed.

UTMB doctors saved his life, but he is paralyzed from the chest down, can barely move his hands and needs special care.

The problem for UTMB is that Martinez is undocumented and has no hope of qualifying for workman's compensation or Medicaid. UTMB is forced to bear the expense of Martinez's care until another place can be found for him to go.

Experts say the problems confronting Martinez and UTMB raise ethical and social issues about the rights of undocumented residents and the costs when some are inevitably injured and require expensive long-term treatment.

Martinez said the social worker badgered him about signing documents that would allow the hospital to purchase him a ticket for Mexico. Martinez doesn't want to leave his common-law wife, who is a U.S. citizen, and their 6-month-old son. He refused to sign.

'If you don't want me here, just throw me outside,' Martinez told the social worker.

UTMB declined to comment on Martinez."  Read more …


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