This is truly an "only in America" story, but not in a good way.
Certified nurse assistant Amelia Mendoza, 52, of West Covina, was physically attacked by a patient while working at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena earlier this year, suffering injuries to her head and neck. Amelia was examined in the hospital’s Emergency Room and ordered back to work. After a second attack by the same dangerous patient, Huntington Hospital turned Amelia away from their in-house workers’ compensation clinic. They were "too busy" that day, and told her to come back tomorrow. But within hours, Amelia's injuries caught up with her -- she had a hemorrhagic stroke, collapsed into a vegetative state, and has not recovered.
Yet this is not just another sad case of an employer failing to protect an employee against workplace violence. Amazingly, both her personal insurance company and her employer's insurance company have denied her medical treatment and health care. Because hospital records confirm the attacks, and the attacks caused her brain injury, Blue Cross Blue Shield has denied hospital care, on the grounds that her employer's workman's compensation should be liable instead. But her employer, Huntington Hospital (and their insurance carrier Sedgwick), have denied coverage as well, on the grounds that it could not be determined with a medical certainty that the at-work beating was the sole cause of the vegetative state. (Yes, really.)
Amelia desperately needs critical care. Instead, her husband has been forced to quit his job, and become her sole provider, paying for her medications, waking every two hours to administer them into her feeding tube, turning her, bathing her, and keeping her alive the best he can -- all by himself, not in a hospital where she belongs, but at their home.
The family commissioned the following brief video, to show the lives of the Mendozas today. Please watch if you can.
This is the state of health care in this country. Not only was Amelia Mendoza fully insured, but she herself was a health care worker, who devoted her life to the care of others. Even if we've gotten used to companies like Blue Cross denying claims, it is staggering that her own employer -- a hospital -- would try and find an underhanded excuse to refuse to treat one of their own. If someone like Amelia, a fully insured health care specialist who was injured while doing her job, if even she can't get treatment, what hope is there for the rest of us?
Please help. We at truthandhope.org and dMedia have launched a simple website you can share with friends and family, HelpAmelia.com. There are two links to donate, if you can. The left link, through actblue.com, will allow us to edit and air Amelia's footage as a :60 second broadcast ad, both to pressure Blue Cross and Huntington Hospital to fulfill their obligations, and to continue to shed a national spotlight on cases like Amelia's, and the need for urgent health care reform. The right link, through paypal.com, allows you to send money directly to Amelia's family to pay for her care, to buy the drugs and supplies that her insurance company and employer have so viciously denied her. The Mendoza family shouldn't have to go bankrupt while insurance bureaucrats battle over who should pay the damned check. (It has now been six months.)
And, if you can, please consider calling Blue Cross (at 415-229-5447) and Huntington Hospital (626-397-5919) to demand Amelia get the medical care she's entitled to.
Also, if you're in the Van Nuys area, please join us for an urgent meeting at 8:30am tomorrow, October 21st, here:
Workers' Compensation Appeals Board
6150 Van Nuys Blvd
Van Nuys, CA 91401-3370
We need to show that Amelia is not alone, and it's not just her immediate family who's prepared to fight. They might be able to throw a single family under the bus, but they can't stop a public outcry. By keeping the pressure on Blue Cross, Huntington, and Sedgwick, we're praying that someone will finally buckle and do the right thing, even if it's just to avoid the (well warranted) negative publicity. I hate that this is what families have to resort to in order to get their promised coverage, but that's where we're at today -- whether it's breast-fed babies being denied coverage due to "obesity" or women being denied treatment over a "pre-existing condition" of domestic abuse, sometimes the only way to get care is to scream louder than everybody else.
So scream with us. After all, Amelia devoted her life to the health of others. All her family is asking for is a little care in return.
Update: By request, here's some recent coverage on the case:
They're all the same article though (it's an AP story) so take your pick on which one to read. I'll post more when other journalists expand on the AP story over the coming days.
Update 2: DIGG here.