Union-Tribune | Cheryl Clark & Leslie Berestein | Oct. 31, 2007
The fact that 11 of the 18 wildfire victims lying in UCSD Medical Center’s burn unit are illegal immigrants with no apparent health coverage highlights the daunting financial challenge hospitals face in providing long-term, intensive care for all those who need it.
“These are the most expensive kinds of cases, but we don’t look at these patients and say, oh, because they aren’t legal residents, we’ll stop providing care or stop changing their bandages,” said Dr. Thomas McAfee, UCSD’s physician-in-chief. “It’s part of our ethic to continue to provide this care no matter what.”
According to the Mexican Consulate in San Diego, the burn victims are from central and southern Mexico, and include one woman. Four are in critical condition. All were rescued north of Tecate last week, said consulate spokesman Alberto Lozano, and it is suspected they had crossed the border illegally before coming face to face with the Harris fire.
Four other people, two men and two women, were found dead Thursday in a ravine off state Route 94. Their badly burned bodies remain unidentified, although authorities suspect they crossed illegally before they died.
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