The U.S. government is warning U.S. citizens to avoid visiting a hospital at a Mexican resort following years of complaints that the resort took advantage of Americans by charging too much, threatening patients, and refusing to release medical documents.
MEXICO CITY (A.P.) – A government official from the U.S. government is warning Americans to stay clear of hospitals in the Mexican beach location in the wake of several years of complaints about how the hospital swindled Americans by charging too much, threatening patients, and refusing to release medical documents.
More than 100,000 U.S. tourists arrive at Los Cabos in the southern part of the Baja California peninsula each month, attracted by its stunning desert landscape and beaches. They’re not just a blessing to the restaurants and hotels of two towns, Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, however, but they also benefit from St. Luke’s Hospital in Cabo San Lucas.
Numerous complaints have been submitted from U.S. citizens saying the hospital demanded thousands to tens of thousands of dollars for advance payment, threatened the relatives of patients, and refused to provide clinical reports of the services they offered. This led officials at the U.S. consulate in Tijuana to issue an unusual “health alert” Wednesday about St. Luke’s practices in business.
“U.S. citizens have been notified of instances of delaying treatment for payment in the absence of detailed lists of costs or ordering unnecessary procedures and refusing to accept U.S. passports, obstructing medical evacuations and refusing to release patients with no payments,” The consulate stated in its notice.
The hospital could not provide any information when reached by phone and email on Thursday.
The consulate has urged U.S. citizens to go to the other hospitals on the consulate’s webpage.
Evidence suggests that St. Luke’s pays or other ways compensate hotels and ambulances for transporting American patients to the hospital.
The consulate noted, “Please be advised that hotels and resorts located in areas in the Los Cabos area may have agreements in place or informal connections that are not formalized with St. Luke’s. ”
It connected to local newspapers that the hospital is paying ambulance drivers to transport American patients into St. Luke’s.
The practice seems to be long-standing. A forum in English for tourists and residents in Los Cabos posted a comment six years ago, “Be aware that St. Luke’s has ambulance chasers out all the time.”
“The owners are paid a wholesome payment for selecting you up off the road and taking one to St. Luke’s,” according to the blog post of a travel agent. “My Cabo friends told me that the longer I speak and shout, Do not take me to St. Luke’s!! !”
One of the most heartbreaking accounts was recorded in an official complaint filed in August by Scott Lairson, a Los Angeles man his wife Patricia Lairson was taken into St. Luke’s while the couple was on vacation in June. The diagnosis was acute respiratory insufficiency and pneumonia caused by COVID-19.
Patricia Lairson had severe breathing issues and was treated by St. Luke’s for 12 days.
The treatment was good, but the hospital’s management was very aggressive in telling her husband that they would send his wife to the hospital for community patients if he did not immediately pay $50,000 and was unable to visit in the event of not paying.
He placed 10,000 on the credit card but did not have more cash. He eventually paid $25,000 for her transportation to Arizona, where she died. The hospital charged United Healthcare, his insurer United Healthcare, $1 million, but they have not provided the medical details of each procedure to justify the payment.
Lairson said the following: Mario Trejo Becerril, the hospital director, said to him, “I want that deposit today. You go outside and call your family, whoever you need to call, or don’t return to this hospital.”
“And if I ever hear about you recording conversations with your phone, you will never see your wife again!” Lairson described.