Entertainment

A Hospital In Mexico Was Keeping A Couple From Leaving Until They Paid Their Bill In Full And Tyler Perry Helped Them Out

Imagine: you and your boo are on your dream vacation, kicking back and sipping chelas on a Mexican cruise. Suddenly, one of you gets sick—like, really sick, and you’re rushed to a hospital in Mexico in critical condition. It sounds like a nightmare, right? Well, this happened to an American couple about a week ago. When they were faced with a $14,000 medical bill, film mogul Tyler Perry took immediate action to help them out.

Tori Austin’s fiancé, Stephen Johnson, suffered a sudden medical emergency while on a Carnival Dream cruise ship. He was diagnosed on board with diabetes, pancreatitis, and a kidney infection that required urgent dialysis. He was rushed to Centro Médico Americano, a private Mexican hospital in the city of Progreso.

A health administrator told NBC News that Johnson was “near death” when he finally made it to the medical center on November 14.

Credit: Unsplash

“He suffered kidney failure and is currently undergoing dialysis,” the administrator said. Johnson received three days of intensive care, which included an endoscopy and dialysis. After everything was said and done, the hospital bill totaled $14,000 and the hospital, Centro Médico Americano, prevented the couple from leaving until the bill was paid in full. Austin even claimed that hospital staffers locked the windows to ensure that they could not leave, and threatened to call the police if the couple tried to take off.

Whether or not those steps were actually taken by hospital staff, preventing patients from leaving before paying their bills in full is not unusual for private hospitals in Mexico. Many of these hospitals require patients, especially international patients, to pay their fees upfront, because they don’t have an effective way of billing patients after they have been discharged. If they don’t have travel insurance, Centro Médico Americano does try to help patients find a way to pay through credit cards or money transfers, but what if you just don’t have the means to cover the cost?

Well, you hope that Tyler Perry gets word of your situation.

After seeing a news report on the couple’s dilemma, Tyler Perry contacted Austin and sent a payment to cover the bill, which by that time amounted to more than $16,000.

Credit: tylerperry / Instagram

Perry also offered to pay the couple’s travel expenses back to Atlanta once they were permitted to leave the hospital. According to NBC News, Centro Médico Americano said on Saturday that they had not yet received Perry’s payment. However, the hospital did note that international transfers typically take several days to process, and conceded that the couple would be free to go on Monday if Johnson was healthy enough to travel. In the meantime, Austin expressed her gratitude for Perry’s support.

“Today I am thankful for and will always be thankful for Tyler Perry,” she wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday. She also shared positive feelings about Carnival Dream, affirming that the company “has been great” and that she will continue to “only cruise with them.” Additionally, in spite of this chaotic experience, Austin wrote that she would definitely continue to travel to Mexico in the future.

“What is going on with Stephen has nothing to do with the entire country, it has to do with this particular hospital,” she wrote. “We were unaware that this particular hospital and administration staff have been known to take American passports and hold them for payment.”

“I love MEXICO and the Culture,” she added. “I’ll be back again but will leave on my own terms. We have no ill feelings for the country or the people, just this hospital.”

Credit: Tori Austin / Facebook

The website of the U.S. Embassy in Mexico informs U.S. citizens that unexpected hospitalizations in Mexico can be “a difficult experience.” They recommend that if a traveler ends up in a Mexican hospital, they should “obtain the estimated cost of proposed treatments, request an itemized bill every day, and, if uncomfortable with costs, change hospitals if medically possible.” The Embassy states that hospital quality in Mexico varies, and there are different types of hospitals with a range of protocols.  

The Embassy also confirms that the couple’s experience is not unique, warning that “while most U.S. citizens have acceptable hospitalization experiences in Mexico, some have reported hospitals failing to provide an itemized list of charges, withholding U.S. passports, and delaying medical evacuations.” The Embassy reiterates that “the U.S. government does not pay for medical care overseas,” but some private insurance companies do. So, if you have insurance, make sure to check with your insurance company before leaving the country, to know what services are covered in case of an emergency.

If you don’t have insurance, don’t let that hold you back from setting out to see the world — just do your best to stay safe, and cross your fingers that a good Samaritan steps in if something unexpected happens.

READ: Atlanta Will Be The Site Of The First Latino-Owned And Operated Production Studio

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Mexico Wants American Tourists Despite Ongoing Covid Pandemic

Culture

Mexico Wants American Tourists Despite Ongoing Covid Pandemic

VV Nincic / Flickr

Covid-19 has ended a lot of stuff for a lot of people. The most obvious change has been to international travel, especially for Americans. As the virus has spread widely across the U.S. countries have put a halt to allowing American tourist within their border, but not Mexico.

Covid-19 has severly depreciated the American passport.

Once capable of unlocking so many countries, the U.S. passport is no longer helping Americans travel abroad. Instead, the American passport has now become a hindrance for global travelers. Most countries have placed restrictions on American tourists making the U.S. passport one of the weakest.

The countries banning the U.S. are doing so because of the state of the virus in the country.

There have been more than 7 million cases of Covid-19 and more than 200,000 deaths from the virus. The U.S. remains the worst hit country and the global epicenter of the deadly virus. Many blame the lack of a national strategy to properly close down, test citizens, and contact trace those who have been exposed as the reason the virus has been so devastating in the U.S.

The various travel bans have kept families apart.

Other nations went into mush stricter lockdowns that the U.S. and got a handle of the virus. European countries have gotten the virus under control after months and the U.S. continues to see a large number of new cases daily.

One of the countries allowing Americans to visit is Mexico.

Mexico is heavily reliant on the money made from the tourism industry. According to official statistics, the tourism industry is the third-largest contributor to the country’s GDP. Major tourist destinations like Cabo and Cancún saw dramatic dips in tourism leading to national and local figures to sound the alarm. According to The Washington Post, the questions was posed about when to allow the tourists from the U.S. back, not should they.

Los Cabos is one of the hardest-hit tourist destinations.

The tourist destination saw a severe decline in tourists during one of the busiest times of the year. According to The Washington Post, the resort city has lost 80 percent of its revenue because of Covid-19. The virus has brought financial devastation to people across the world and the cities they live in aren’t immune to failing themselves.

“It’s life or death for us,” Rodrigo Esponda, the head of the Los Cabos tourism board, told The Washington Post. “There’s nothing else here. No industrial production. No farming or commercial fishing. It’s tourism or nothing.”

Yet, Los Cabos should be a warning sign to the rest of Mexico.

Cases in Baja California, the state where Los Cabos is located, saw new Covid case numbers triple from 50 a day to 150. The increase in infections is to be expected as the state rolled out the welcome mat for Americans coming to visit the resort town.

“There are some residents who say, ‘Why put my family’s life in danger by inviting more visitors, restarting more flights?’” Luis Humberto Araiza López, tourism minister of Baja California Sur, told The Washington Post. “It’s a delicate line between trying to support public health and economic growth.”

Despite this, there are some countries that Americans can travel to.

The countries Americans can travel to without Covid restrictions are Albania, Belarus, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Mexico, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey, and Zambia. As the world continues to open up, Americans who travel abroad are waiting for the U.S. government to get the virus under control. Until then, the U.S. passport is not the same it used to be.

READ: The U.S. Passport Was Once The World’s Strongest, It’s Fallen To 25th Place Thanks To Failed Leadership Amid Coronavirus

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You Can Order A ‘Taco Vacuna’ And ‘La Cura’ At This Covid 19-Themed Taqueria

Culture

You Can Order A ‘Taco Vacuna’ And ‘La Cura’ At This Covid 19-Themed Taqueria

Tacovid: SaborViral / Facebook

Pandemia. Brote. Vacuna. La Peste. Although you may find these terms in a glossary about the Covid-19 outbreak, that’s not what these words actually refer to. Instead, they’re options on the menu at a Mexican taqueria called “Tacovid: Sabor Viral”, a perhaps surprisingly very successful Coronavirus-themed restaurant.

Although to many having a Covid-themed taqueria may seem morbid or disrespectful or perhaps gross – I mean who wants to order a plague taco? – the taqueria is making light of a very serious situation with humor. Something that several other businesses have done since the pandemic began.

”Tacovid: Sabor Viral” is the Mexican taqueria going viral – pun intended – for its Covid-themed menu.

Ok…virus-themed tacos don’t exactly sound appetizing. Especially, as we’re still in the midst of a very real pandemic. But one 23-year-old man in the Mexican city of León, who was forced to close down his dance studio because of Coronavirus, is counting on a Covid-themed restaurant – and so far he’s been surprised by its success.

Brandon Velázquez converted his dance academy into a taquería at the end of July, and given that Mexico and the rest of the world was – and is – in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic decided to call it Tacovid Sabor Viral.

“I had to close my dance academy during the pandemic [but] then an opportunity arose to return to the same place, however, people still did not go out for fear of getting infected.” he told the newspaper El Universal.

“I had always wanted to open a taqueria and, at the end of July, the opportunity to do so occurred. It was how I took advantage of the moment to create this business with a coronavirus theme,” he added.

Items on the menu are named after – you guessed it – the Coronavirus and don’t sound like anything you’d willfully choose to order.

The young entrepreneur detailed the name of each dish, taking full advantage of the Coronavirus theme.

“We have around 12 different dishes, among them are the ‘Tacovid’; we have ‘Forty’, ‘Quesanitizing’, ‘Pandemic’, ‘Outbreak’, and many others. The price varies depending on the dish you order,” he told El Universal.

In addition to themed dishes, the servers also fit the Coronavirus-theme.

When the pandemic hit Mexico, the government urged Mexicans to observe “su sana distancia” and the now common mascot – Susana Distancia – was born.

“In the restaurant, a waitress dressed as a nurse with the name of ‘Susana’ takes orders and works the tables, referring to the healthy distance campaign that was implemented as a precautionary measure,” he says.

To his surprise – and honestly mine as well – the taqueria has been very successful.

Brandon told El Universal that he’s been pleasantly surprised by the support he has received from customers. “I’m surprised because we have had really good sales, despite the circumstances, we have had a lot of support by the community and we’ve already expanded to have two locations.”

“Customers are funny about the theme we are using in the business, and they are delighted with the dishes we are offering. They enjoy it and have a good time,” added Brandon.

Things are looking so good for Brandon and his Covid-themed taqueria, that he’s looking to expand the food business and add new dishes to the menu. “There is always the idea of new names for other dishes that we want to include in the menu.”

Brandon also said that he’s looking to build out a business model so the restaurant could expand to other parts of the country as a franchise.

Apparently, people are really into Covid-themed foods, as this isn’t the first place that a shop as cashed in on the pandemic. Back in April, a panadería was selling out of Covid-themed baked goods so quickly, they couldn’t keep the shelves stocked.

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