Yuma hospital spent $26M last year treating migrant patients: 'They have no ability to pay'

A hospital in Yuma has spent more than $26 million treating migrants who crossed the border and then walked in for care.

The overwhelming number of patients the Yuma Regional Medical Center is seeing means they'll have to add more staff - another added cost.

It's the closest and only hospital in the region, as the next nearest is 180 miles away in San Diego or in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

"I always say the population of Yuma is 100,000," said Robert Trenschel, a doctor at Yuma Regional Medical Center. "We’ve had 300,000 people cross the border in the past year, and we are the only hospital they come to. I don’t know how anybody can look at that and say this is a fair setup."

The hospital says they will never turn away a sick patient, including illegal border crossers. Trenschel says they've provided over $26 million in medical aid in the past year, from December 2021 to last November.

It's a number that he says the medical facility will never be able to recover from.

"You basically take it out of what you have in savings and take it out of what you have in terms of what you do from an operational perspective," Trenschel said.

The doctor is searching for ways to get the fees reimbursed and is hoping the state can help out, but he's also asking for help from the federal government. Last month, he testified in Washington, D.C. on the House floor.

"Migrant patients are receiving free care that they have no ability to pay, we have no ability to bill anyone, we don't know their final destination, we don't know anything about them," he testified. "We cannot provide completely free care to the residents of our community so the situation is simply not fair and concerning to them."

The surge has been stressful on hospital employees. Migrants arrive with various injuries like bruises and dehydration, but the largest group is maternity patients.

"Probably about 27 percent were maternity patients and many come in with no or little to no pre-natal care, so the babies when they are born are typically very sick, they typically wind up in our neonatal intensive care unit," Trenschel said. "Mom typically gets discharged earlier, but we want to keep mom and baby together obviously, so sometimes we put them up in a hotel."

As Title 42 is set to expire in May, the hospital is bracing for an even bigger surge of migrants needing their care.

Meanwhile, data from the American Hospital Directory shows that Yuma Regional Medical Center posted $2.6 billion in revenue last year with a net income of $167 million.

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