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After Medical Bills Broke the Bank, This Family Headed to Mexico for Care

The Fierro family of Yuma, Arizona, had a string of bad medical luck that started in December 2020. That’s when Jesús Fierro Sr. was admitted to the hospital with a serious covid-19 infection. He spent 18 days at Yuma Regional Medical Center, where he lost 60 pounds. He came home weak and dependent on an […]

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The Pandemic Exacerbates the ‘Paramedic Paradox’ in Rural America

Even after she’s clocked out, Sarah Lewin keeps a Ford Explorer outfitted with medical gear parked outside her house. As one of just four paramedics covering five counties across vast, sprawling eastern Montana, she knows a call that someone had a heart attack, was in a serious car crash, or needs life support and is […]

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An $80,000 Tab for Newborns Lays Out a Loophole in the New Law to Curb Surprise Bills

When Greg and Sugar Bull were ready to start a family, health challenges necessitated that they work with a gestational surrogate. The woman who carried and gave birth to their twins lived two states away. The pregnancy went well until the surrogate experienced high blood pressure and other symptoms of preeclampsia, which could have harmed […]

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An Anesthesiology Practice’s Busy Day in Court Collecting on Surprise Bills

Owen Loney’s surprise bill resulted from an emergency appendectomy in 2019 at a Richmond, Virginia, hospital. Insurance covered most of the cost of the hospital stay, he said. He didn’t pay much attention to a bill he received from Commonwealth Anesthesia Associates and expected his insurance to cover it. A few months ago, he got […]

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Rural Communities Left Hurting Without a Hospital, Ambulance or Doctors Nearby

STATENVILLE, Ga. — Georgia’s Echols County, which borders Florida, could be called a health care desert. It has no hospital, no local ambulances. A medical provider comes to treat patients at a migrant farmworker clinic but, other than a small public health department with two full-time employees, that’s about the extent of the medical care […]

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As Hospitals Fill Up, Paramedics Spend More Time Moving Patients, Less on Emergencies

GUNNISON, Colo. — The night after Thanksgiving, a small ambulance service that covers a huge swath of southwestern Colorado got a call that a patient needed an emergency transfer from the hospital in Gunnison to a larger one with an intensive care unit 65 miles away in Montrose. The patient — a 78-year-old man — […]

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A Rural Georgia Community Reels After Its Hospital Closes

CUTHBERT, Ga. — Lacandie Gipson struggled to breathe. The 33-year-old woman with multiple health conditions was in respiratory distress and awaiting an ambulance. About 20 minutes after the emergency call, it arrived. The Cuthbert home where Gipson lived was less than a mile from Southwest Georgia Regional Medical Center, but the ambulance couldn’t take her […]

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The ER Charged Him $6,500 for Six Stitches. No Wonder His Critically Ill Wife Avoided the ER.

Jason and DeeAnn Dean recently relocated to her hometown of Dellrose, Tennessee, where she grew up on a farm. Both in their late 40s, they’re trying to start a green dream business that combines organic farming with a health and wellness consulting company. They want to inspire people to grow their own food in this […]

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ICUs Are Filled With Covid — And Regret

It’s a struggle for Joe Gammon to talk. Lying in his bed in the intensive care unit at Ascension Saint Thomas Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, this month, he described himself as “naive.”  “If I would have known six months ago that this could be possible, this would have been a no-brainer,” said the 45-year-old father of […]

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From Uber Vouchers to Patient Advocates: What It Takes to Increase ER Addiction Treatment

For years, Kayla West watched the opioid epidemic tear through her eastern Tennessee community. As a psychiatric nurse practitioner, she treated people with mental illness but felt she needed to do more to address addiction. So in 2020, when the state created a position to help hospitals improve addiction care in the emergency room, West […]