San Juan Puerto Rico.
Alexis Joel Hernández, a Puerto Rican medical student who suffered severe burns while studying in Mexico, asks for help to pay for a medical bill of 1.7 million dollars for treatments received at the Brooke Army Medical Center military hospital in San Antonio (Texas, USA) that your insurer does not pay for.
The Calvary of Hernández It began on January 19, 2019, when before starting his medical studies at the Autonomous University of Guadalajara he went to turn on a heater in the patio of the apartment he was renting, when due to a gas leak it exploded, as he recalls this Friday to Eph.
“It was the first time I used the heater, because it was my first day in the apartment. I tried to turn on the heater and it exploded,” said Hernández.
The explosion caused Hernández’s head to collide with the heater and suffer second and third degree burns in 70% of your body.
Never lost consciousness
Despite this, according to Hernández, he never lost consciousness. “I was always aware and I remember almost everything that happened“, He said.
“If the heater had been inside the apartment, it would not survive,” he said.
After the outbreak, several of Hernández’s neighbors, including other Puerto Ricans who were also beginning their university studies in medicine, helped him.
“I did my best to get out of the apartment, until I managed to jump a wall. A neighbor who heard my steps and blows was the first to help meBefore other colleagues managed to rescue me, “he explained.
“I really didn’t understand that it was on fire and I don’t know how it went out,” he added.
After these people helped Hernández, contacted health personnel to take him to the nearest hospital, where they induced a coma.
Mexican hospital was not prepared to treat him
“The hospital in Mexico was not prepared to treat a case like mine. It did not have the resources to treat me and the doctors recommended that I be transferred,” he added.
Hernández was transferred to hospital militar Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio (Texas, USA) to continue his treatment.
He recalled that his parents wanted him to be transferred to Puerto Rico, but that the closest hospital that could attend to his case was the one in San Antonio, so the island’s Department of Health, through the local government, was in charge of doing all procedures.
Twenty days in a coma
“I was almost 20 days in a coma and when I left I did not react or wake up. It was a very worrying situation. Then I gave signs of life, “he said.
“My first memory was seeing a nurse looking at me and my parents with me. I knew what had happened to me, but I was confused. I did not know where I was and I began to say that you had to pay for the internet and that you had to call a business to bring one dryer, “he said.
“Just enduring the pain that I felt is a miracle“said Hernández, who was confined for seven months in the military hospital until he returned to Puerto Rico.
During his seven months in the military hospital, Hernández was operated on 19 times. The first operation cost $ 100,000 and the second $ 120,000.
However, upon his return to his homeland, another ordeal began when in December 2020 he received the first bill for your treatments of 1.3 million dollars.
According to Hernández, he had until April of that year “to reach an agreement with the hospital to pay“, but the agreement was to pay $ 35,000 a month for three years and pay off the debt and contact his health insurance, at that time First Medical, which refused to face the amount.
“I did my best to contact the health insurance and because it is a military hospital, the debt was taken to the United States Department of the Treasury, “he lamented.
Back then the State Insurance Fund Corporation agreed with Hernández to cover physical therapies, although later the Governing Board of the public corporation did not approve the agreement.
“They never explained to me why they refused,” he said.
The invoice reached $ 1.7 million per surchargeHernández said.
“What I find unfair is that the health insurance tells me that I did not have coverage after receiving the bill,” he said.
“I feel like they were unfair, because they should have been more honest with me. There were hundreds of times that I tried to contact them and the times I wanted to talk to them and they told me that they were going to cover me, but it was not like that. They were not transparent, “he added.
Hernández then chose to request the Vital health plan of the Government of Puerto Rico, but as he assured “many doctors do not accept the plan, because the Government does not pay them.”
The congresswoman of Puerto Rican origin Nydia Velázquez took notice of the case and asked US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Thursday to consider “fully and fairly“Hernández’s appeal to forgive the millionaire debt in the American public hospital.