Can Florida hospitals afford more medical refugees from Haiti?


According to a spokesperson for Tampa International Airport, two flights arrived in Tampa earlier this week to deliver 36 seriously injured earthquake victims from Haiti. But the economic impact of the influx of Haitians is a concern for the state.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mentioned Monday that the US is considering allowing more Haitian immigrants into the country, due to the devastation of the island nation from the earthquake two weeks ago. Angel Parham is an assistant sociology professor at Loyola University New Orleans, and has expertise in Haitian studies. She says the government may be hesitant to receive undocumented quake victims.

More than 500 Haitians have come to Florida hospitals following the earthquake, because many need specialized care to treat wounds from trauma. Tampa General Hospital has taken in 14 earthquake victims from Haiti, the youngest of which is 3 months old. John Dunn, the spokesperson for the hospital, says the government should help pay for the care.

Governor Charlie Crist sent a letter to the US Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday asking the federal government to help hospitals in Florida to treat the quake victims. He says Florida hospitals cannot pay for all of the expenses of care for the Haitian victims. Dunn says these patients have burns, spinal injuries, and other serious trauma.

But since President Barack Obama suspended Haitian deportation, that’s one more foothold for those who are trying to recover from the disaster, or help incoming family members. Parham says it’s unclear what will happen after the Temporary Protected Status for Haitians expires in 18 months.

Nearly half of the country’s Haitian immigrants live in Florida, and the refugees would expand the state’s Haitian community of about 250,000 people.

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