Phoenix hospital accused of forcing leukemia girl to stay
Story by Stephanie Sanchez, Reporter - bio | email
Los Algodones, Mexico--In an exclusive interview with KSWT News 13, Norma Bracamontes lashes out at the Phoenix Children's Hospital accusing them of refusing to release Emily because she did not have health insurance.
KSWT News 13 met 11-year old Emily Bracamontes and her mother Norma at her doctors office in Los Algodones, Mexico where she is now receiving chemotherapy to treat her leukemia.
Emily appeared to be in relatively good spirits despite losing her right arm.
Both Emily and her mother Norma, claim hospital officials told them Emily would not be allowed to leave the hospital until Norma applied for health insurance to cover Emily's medical costs.
It's a claim, the Phoenix Children's Hospital clearly denies.
"It made me very angry, mad and I cried," Emily Bracamontes said.
Emily in her own words described her emotional pain she claims she felt while being treated for leukemia at the Phoenix Children's Hospital.
"They would keep saying that I'm never going to get out until my parents applied for the access," she said.
She's referring to AHCCCS, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, which provides health insurance for the poor.
Norma claims she filled out the paper work but the hospital kept pressuring her because of Emily's mounting medical bills.
"She was just recovering from the shock," Norma Bracamontes said. "It was tiring that they would go everyday and tell Emily that she was never going to get out until her parents applied and were approved."
Norma said mounting stress then turned to shock after doctors amputated Emily's right arm.
She claims Emily's catheter caused a severe infection.
"As a mother, I felt I had the right that if they weren't going to let her go just because of the insurance...I had the right to get her out like I did," she said.
At that point Norma said that's when she decided to check Emily out of the hospital without permission.
KSWT News 13 called the Phoenix Children's Hospital to check out Norma's claims.
According to the hospital, privacy laws prevent officials from disclosing a patient's insurance status or details regarding treatment.
However hospital spokeswoman Debra Stevens released a statement saying: "Clinical decisions are never based on ability to pay."
Stevens said it's hospital policy "to provide services either free of charge or at a reduced amount to patients who are not able to pay for services."
Meanwhile Emily said she feels safe getting treatment in Mexico.
"I was happy because I was going to see my doctors in Mexico," Emily said.
Norma said for now her family will live in San Luis Rio Colorado so Emily can continue to receive medical treatment for her leukemia.
Norma did not say if she plans to pay the Phoenix Children's Hospital for treating Emily.
But she said she does not plan to file a lawsuit faulting the doctors for inserting a catheter, she claims caused the infection that forced them to amputate Emily's right arm.
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