Saturday, April 25, 2015

Patient 'Dumping' Burdens Hospitals

Her family took grandmother - old, ailing, illegal - to the emergency room. They never went back.

Patient ‘Dumping’ Burdens Hospitals

Soon Ja Kim at Abington Memorial Hospital on March 18, the day she left for home. She stayed months beyond her discharge date, not visited by family and isolated by language.

The newspaper today published the third story in an occasional series on health care in a typical community hospital by Inquirer writer Michael Vitez. He has been embedded with Abington Memorial Hospital since last fall.

This story, with my photos, goes beyond the problem of uninsured patients by looking at illegal immigrants, who often only cannot pay their own bills, but are also ineligible for Medicaid. Soon Ja Kim was admitted to Abington just before Christmas and spent all winter there in a private room. She was approved for discharge just four days after she arrived but had nowhere to go. She became Abington's problem.

The recently-passed Health Care Reform Bill provides no remedy for patients like Mrs. Kim.

Inquirer Staff Photographer
About this blog

Tom Gralish is a general assignment photographer at The Inquirer, concentrating on local news and self-generated feature photos.

He has been at the paper since 1983, photographing everything from revolution in the Philippines to George W. Bush’s road to the White House to homeless people living on the street right outside his newspaper's front door. For his photo essay on Philadelphia’s homeless, he was awarded both the Pulitzer Prize and the Robert F. Kennedy Award.

His weekly newspaper column, "Scene Through the Lens," takes a look at Philadelphia's urban landscape.

Gralish, along with Inquirer colleague and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Michael Vitez, spent a year visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art to capture the stories and photos of "Rocky runners" who come from all over the world to climb the steps - just as Sylvester Stallone did in the Academy Award winning film, Rocky. Their book, Rocky Stories: Tales of Love, Hope and Happiness at America’s Most Famous Steps, was published in November 2006.

Reach Tom at

Tom Gralish Inquirer Staff Photographer
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