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Health & Spirit

Mother is stuck in health care dilemma as her baby struggles with illness

Elizabeth Koh, Miami Herald on

Published in Health & Fitness

On Oct. 15, a few weeks after her family had fled their home, Jimenez strapped her baby onto a plane organized by Warrior Angels Rescue, a group which coordinated chartered evacuation flights for people with urgent medical needs. Her husband Juan stayed behind to try to salvage their belongings. The plane transported Victoria and her mother to Miami, and Jimenez was given instructions to take an ambulance from the airport to the emergency department at Nicklaus Children's Hospital in the city.

But when the plane landed, a mix-up among the paramedics on the ground led Jimenez and her daughter to be shuttled 20 miles north to Joe DiMaggio's Children's Hospital in Hollywood, Martinez said.

There, Jimenez quickly discovered -- contrary to what she had been told -- that the Medicaid that had kept Victoria alive in Puerto Rico had not followed them to the mainland.

"They started to ask me if the baby had insurance," she said. "Before they even checked her, they asked if she had insurance here."

A staffer took her information, she said, then returned and told her her Puerto Rico insurance was not valid. Then, she recalled, a staffer told her to leave.

"You need to take the baby," she recalled hearing.

Jimenez and people from the Warrior Angels Rescue group urged them to contact the doctor from the hospital in Puerto Rico to verify Victoria had an infection around her gastric tube. Around 1 a.m. Monday, Victoria was successfully admitted, Martinez said.

Four days later, deeming the baby stable and the infection addressed, hospital staff discharged Victoria with a few weeks of formula and some rental medical equipment including the ventilator, according to records the family provided. They also accidentally discharged the baby with unmixed antibiotics to treat the infection, though the medications are supposed to be mixed by pharmacists, advocates said.

Martinez, the family advocate who also chairs the Miami-Dade disability commission, charged that Victoria, still on the ventilator and the feeding tube, should have had more medical attention.

"This is not an outpatient sort of thing. They wanted to stabilize and not treat," Martinez said. "They took the cheapest way out."

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