The 69-year-old patient, Wladyslaw Haniszewski was in the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital being treated for blood disease when he suffered a major stroke that rendered him unconscious. The hospital decided to deport him after discovering he had no health insurance. According to the NY Daily News, the diplomats handling his case did not receive word of his deportation until he had turned up in a Polish hospital. The director at the Polish hospital said that Haniszewski was “dumped on the doorstep” before they had even agreed to the transfer. This should not have happened since there must be consent either by the patient, who in this case was comatose, family, or a court guardian, whom the Polish diplomats were securing when Haniszewski was deported.
Haniszewski lived in the US for 30 years, and recently moved into a shelter after losing his job and apartment, according to a friend interviewed by the NY Daily News. Because Haniszewski does not have Polish health insurance, his care is costing the Polish hospital hundreds of dollars a day.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement branch of the government insisted that it “does not get involved in repatriations undertaken by hospitals.” Yet in other cases where medical repatriation occur, numerous consular officials have said they have been pressured by Congressmen and other government officials to release travel documents for patients who would otherwise be too unstable to transfer out the hospital, let alone the country. In one example, despite a patient’s refusal to leave a Chicago hospital, a congressman pressured the Guatemalan consulate to issue a travel document for the patient’s medical repatriation.
Unfortunately Haniszewski is hardly the only patient deported by an institution designated to provide aid. Over the course of six years, more than 800 patients were deported from at least 15 states back to their home countries by hospitals across fifteen states.