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

A 25-Year-Old Woman Was Murdered And Skinned, Then Mexican Newspapers Published Photos Of Her Body

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A 25-Year-Old Woman Was Murdered And Skinned, Then Mexican Newspapers Published Photos Of Her Body

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In Mexico, the recent brutal mutilation and slaying of a 25-year-old woman are spurning conversations about the country’s efforts to prevent femicide and laws that protect victims from the media.

On Sunday, Mexican authorities revealed that they had discovered the body of Ingrid Escamilla.

According to reports, Escamilla was found lifeless with her body skinned and many of her organs missing. At the scene, a 46-year-old man was also discovered alive. His body was covered in bloodstains and he was arrested.

As of this story wasn’t troubling enough, local tabloids and websites managed to bring more tragedy to the victim and her family by splashing leaked graphic photos and videos of the victim’s body. In a terribly crafted headline, one paper by the name of Pasala printed the photos on its front page with the headline “It was Cupid’s fault.” The headline is a reference to the fact that the man found at the scene was Escamilla’s husband.

According to leaked video footage from the arrest scene, Escamilla’s husband admitted to stabbing his wife after a heated argument in which she threatened to kill him. He then claimed to have skinned her body to eliminate evidence.

Mexic City’s mayor, Claudia Sheinbaum, revealed that prosecutors will demand the maximum sentence against the alleged perpetrator.

“Femicide is an absolutely condemnable crime. It is appalling when hatred reaches extremes like in the case of Ingrid Escamilla,” Sheinbaum wrote in a tweet according to CNN. According to reports, Mexico broke records in 2018 when its homicide record reached over 33,000 people that year.

The publication of Escamilla’s mutilated body has sparked discussions regarding the way in which reports about violence against women are handled.

Women’s rights organizations have lambasted the papers that originally published photos of Escamilla’s body and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador also expressed criticism of the media’s response to the brutal slaying.

In a press conference on Thursday, President López Obrador expressed his determination to find and punish anyone responsible for the image leaks. “This is a crime, that needs to be punished, whoever it is,” he stated.

Conservationists At Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Reserve Are Being Murdered And Investigators Aren’t Sure Why

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Conservationists At Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Reserve Are Being Murdered And Investigators Aren’t Sure Why

Alan Ortega / Getty

Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Reserve is one of the world’s most famous wildlife hotspots. Hundreds of thousands come each year to view the annual migration of millions of beautiful butterflies that call Mexico’s Michoacan state home during the winter.

However, this iconic and majestic habitat for one of the world’s most endangered animals is now the backdrop for a dramatic murder mystery that is unfolding in international headlines. Two conservationists have been discovered dead just days apart and investigators still aren’t sure why.

A second victim has been pronounced killed by authorities in Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly reserve.

Credit: Alan Ortega / Getty

One of the world’s most beautiful wildlife spots is now the backdrop for a dramatic double murder after two nature activists are discovered dead at Mexico’s El Rosario monarch butterfly sanctuary.

The deaths of Homero Gomez Gonzalez, manager of the butterfly reserve, and Raul Hernandez Romero, a tour guide at the sanctuary, have sent shockwaves across the world of wildlife conservation.

Hernandez Romero’s body was discovered on Saturday near the highest point of the mountainous sanctuary, which sits 9,000 feet above sea level in the state of Michoacan, about 130 miles west of Mexico City, according to a statement from the Michoacan state prosecutor’s office. Hernandez Romero’s family reported him missing on Friday, officials said.

The new victim was found just days after the first victim’s body was found after being missing for 16 days.

Credit: Alan Ortega / Getty

Authorities discovered his body about three days after the Hernandez Romero’s body was found in a pond near the Central Mexico town of El Soldado, prosecutors said.

An autopsy performed in the presence of State Human Rights Commission representatives determined Gomez Gonzalez died from “mechanical asphyxiation” after suffering head trauma and being submerged in water.

Gomez Gonzalez, whose family reported him missing two weeks ago, was one of the region’s most prominent conservation activists and a vocal defender of the monarch butterflies. He had launched a campaign against illegal logging that threatens the butterflies nesting grounds.

Although petty crime and theft is common in these parts of Mexico, authorities don’t believe this to be the case in Gonzalez’s death. He was found with about $9,000 pesos (or about $500 USD) on him when his body was discovered.

Mexico’s Monarch butterfly preserve is a UNESCO Biosphere reserve that draws hundreds of thousands of tourists each year.

Credit: omgitsjustintime / Instagram

Each winter, millions of monarch butterflies make their home at the El Rosario reserve in Mexico — one of the best places in the world to see them. Local guides lead tourists up the mountainside on foot and horseback to where the monarchs cluster in fir and pine trees. Their bright orange wings flit amid the mild weather of Michoacán, and signs ask for silence as visitors enter the nesting areas.

The El Rosario sanctuary is part of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, which was enshrined as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008, calling the overwintering concentration of butterflies there “a superlative natural phenomenon.” It noted that more than half of overwintering colonies of the monarch butterfly’s eastern population are found in these specific areas of Mexico.

But the same forests that draw butterflies to migrate thousands of miles each winter are under threat from illegal logging and clandestine avocado farms.

Credit: omgitsjustintime / Instagram

Officials in the state of Michoacán said they were unsure if the two deaths were linked – or related to the men’s work in the butterfly reserve. The state has seen a rising tide of violence in recent years, and the region around the monarch butterfly reserve has been rife with illegal logging, despite a ban imposed to protect the monarchs, which winter in the pine- and fir-covered hills.

Some illegal clearcutting is also carried out to allow for the planting of avocado orchards – one of Mexico’s most lucrative crops and an important part of Michoacán’s economy.

The deaths again called attention to the disturbing trend in Mexico of environmental defenders being killed as they come into conflict with developers or local crime groups, who often have political and police protection.