Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Foreigners and hospital bills

I'm not quite sure what to make of this story which aired on a Green Bay, Wisconsin, television station about a woman who gave birth in El Salvador and claims she was detained for weeks in the hospital until her family came up with the cash:

It was supposed to be a two week trip to El Salvador for a Green Bay family to visit relatives. Carly Clavel, seven months pregnant, got the okay from her doctor to travel. But while in El Salvador, Carly felt sick and went to the hospital where she says she was forced to have a C-section.

"None of my records at the hospital showed I needed a C-section I think they just did it because they saw America and they saw dollars," said Clavel.

At less than four pounds little Sebastian and his mom stayed at the hospital under what she calls deplorable conditions.

"The conditions in the hospital were horrible. Rats were crawling on my bed when we were in the hospital. They were not taking care of my son properly," she said.

Carly says her baby wasn't being given enough formula and was getting smaller. She wanted to get her son back to the U.S. to get better care, but she says the hospital would not let her leave until they paid $12,000.

Carly, her baby and husband, have been in El Salvador for almost a month now.

Does this story ring true to people in El Salvador, or is there something else going on? There is one lesson -- if you are traveling to El Salvador, or somewhere else in the world for that matter, realize that you may need to pay cash for hospital care because the hospital will not necessarily accept the insurance you have from your home country. Traveler's insurance can be a good idea. Having been hospitalized in El Salvador myself, I knowfrom experience.


George Fulmore said...

What are the details? What hospital? Other complications? That sounds outrageous. My wife was quoted $1,000 for a cap on a tooth while in El Salvador recently, so prices go up if they think you can cover it, I guess. She went to another dentist and got the work done much cheaper. About five years ago, I got a cap done on a tooth near Guadalajara, Mexico, for $70. Per my current dentist, the work looks fine (and would have cost more than $700 in his office). One would expect goods and services to be much cheaper in El Salvador than the states. So, why then is it common to charge $1 or more for a glass of orange juice in ES? Good question?

George Fulmore said...

Another quirk about El Salvador is that there is no Social Security/Medicare as we know it in the U.S. for the elderly. You have relatively good medical coverage if you work and are under SS in ES, as I understand it. (Maids and other "domestics" cannot qualify, as I understand.) But if you are not working (or cannot be put on someone's "payroll" as an employee who then gets benefits), you don't have the right to the SS hospitals or doctors. You need to pony up the money for the expensive private hospitals or go to the public hospitals.

Senor Pescado said...

I am a gringo there 15 years, been to hospital over 10 times,
SS $2.00
they are great,
I guess it depends the person

if you are an ass...le go to Costa Rica where the rest of the ugly americans are,


best medicine-dental is in El Salvador
NOT mex,brazil, thailnf etc

consider the source as Mom always has said

ask me
I will tell you, i do not lie
no reason

just had a hernia op done,
I will be doing a commercial on TV telling all you gringo pendejos living there, go donate some blood

so shut the f... up
Viva El Salvador

Ethan S. James said...

I had great dental care in El Salvador, and would recommend others from the USA to travel there. I certainly will. As long as you have the name of a reputable dentist, they are awesome. And I was never given "gringo prices".

Ethan S. James said...

Oh, and I don't believe the hospital story.

Dave Palmer said...

Which hospital did this woman supposedly go to? I've been to the public hospital in Santa Rosa de Lima more times than I've been to any hospital in the U.S. in recent years, and have never been asked to pay for anything. (Fortunately, it's never been anything major). My wife is Salvadoran, so I'm not sure whether that has anything to do with it. The conditions are certainly not up to U.S. standards, but there weren't rats crawling on the beds as the woman described. (There are cats, which might explain why there are no rats, I guess). As far as "gringo prices," we had our teeth cleaned at the local Catholic church (there is a room in the parish house with a dentist's chair and a dental hygenist on-duty once a week - a donation from my wife's cousin who is a dentist) and they asked us for a $12 donation instead of the usual $8 donation (for people who look like they can pay - it's free for those who can't). We were happy to pay it, and if we would have brought up the family connection, I'm sure they probably wouldn't have asked us for anything.

Carly Clavel said...

My name is Carly Clavel and I am the woman in the story that aired in GB, WI. Believe it or not all is true! Yes, the newscaster mixed up a few things, but not about Mickey Mouse or the fact that they held my preemie son irregardless of our wishes. My son was not ill, eventhough he was born early. Yes, the conditions were terrible, and yes, there really were rats in the post-partum unit. Even the nurses and Dr's saw them. What makes this even worse is that they thought nothing of them. They acted like I was the "freak" for having the reaction that I did.
I did not shed light on my story to make El Salvador look bad. We truly adore my husband's country and his family there. This situation just unfortunately happened to have been my experience this last time we visited. We love the people of El Salvador, the ambiance, and the sites. My previous trips there were wonderful and uneventfull. It was not my intention to taint the name of this country or its people. But it is what it is. And all is true.

Tim said...

Thanks Carly. Care to share the name of the hospital with us?

Juji said...


i used to live in el salvador.

YOU should have realized that things function differently there and prepared accordingly to give birth to your child in a place that you were comfortable with.

which hospital did you go to?

good thing you didn't have the baby on the plane.

Daniel Eduardo said...

I´m salvadorean and I hardly believe this story, I mean, the rats thing I personally wouldn´t foubt it but... paying $12,000... that´s utterly false...

Maybe if you go to Pro-Familia or any other fancy hospital, you would pay like 3 or 4 grands, but still, in average hospitals things are not like that.

Carly, I´m sorry about all this sad story, in the name of El Salvador, pls disregard that awful incident and keep on mind that in E.S. we are warm and caring ppl.

Carly, let me know the name of the hospital, so I can check around.

Viva el FMLN!!!

Eddiego said...

Sometimes the people here is really stupid when we see a few gringos or europeans... if you want to profit your time or your money, you need to talk with a salvadorian friend or salvadorian family... and we can talk for u for all what you want... cheaper and confortable, i really like to make friends for other contries and i am really glad, because i have helped more than one gringo finding houses or rooms, or simply buying stuff... Im really sorry for the bad experience in the hospital and is very odd and strage if your husband is from here, he doesnt have any idea about his own hospitals... Please forgive my bad english im still studying...

Claire Clavel said...

I am the daughter of Carly Clavel. All of these things were true. Although was only 5 or 6 years old, I remember all of the details.