Man Set to Go Home Today After More than Year at Fresno Hospital

Barbara Anderson, The Fresno Bee, January 3, 2012

Doctors say Marco Antonio Fuentes is well enough to go home today.

At last.

Fuentes has spent 374 days at Community Regional Medical Center, the longest uninterrupted stay by a patient at the Fresno acute-care hospital, according to staff recollection.

“God has helped me to make it in here and to make it out of here,” Fuentes said softly from the edge of his hospital bed Tuesday.

Doctors struggled to keep him alive since Fuentes was admitted to the hospital Dec. 26, 2010, with an excruciating belly ache.

Fuentes’ abdomen was full of infection. Surgeons could do little that first day but drain the abscesses and sew him up, said physician assistant Neydi Salaverri-Edmonds.

Necrotizing pancreatitis, an infection of the pancreas, had eaten away tissues, including his intestines, she said.


Fuentes had 12 surgeries overseen by three trauma physicians—Drs. Jim Davis, Ricard Townsend and Kunjan Bhakta.


For 11 months and two weeks, he was too ill to eat food or have water. He was fed intravenously. The open wound in his stomach needed daily dressing changes.


For the shy Fuentes of Kerman, who worked as a farm laborer since 1997, words came slowly Tuesday, especially trying to describe a year spent in a hospital bed. But Salaverri-Edmonds helped fill in gaps and interpreted Spanish for the patient she has grown to know in the year he has been in her care.

He thanks God—and doctors and nurses—he’s alive, and the hospital for his care, he said. Fuentes, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, has no health insurance.

On Tuesday, the final cost of Fuentes’ care was not available. Much of it will be taken on by the hospital as charity care.

Last year, for all patients, the hospital provided $100 million on charity care, according to hospital spokeswoman Mary Lisa Russell.


On Dec. 20, hospital staff threw him a Christmas party. For that occasion, he had homemade enchiladas. They were “really, really” good, he said.

He’s stronger now. He can dress himself, make his bed—and walk, using a cane for balance. After a couple of weeks convalescing at an uncle’s home in Red Bluff, Fuentes will go to Mexico to live with his parents and work at their small, tortilla-making business.



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  • Anonymous

    I hope that there is someone who the spine to send his bill to Mexico. This is insane. Our own leaders talk about cutting programs for Americans, but they fall all over themselves aiding and abetting the criminals who break into our country and laugh at our laws. In addition, our government sends all sorts of financial aid to that corrupt hell hole. When does it stop? When the last Mexican is here freeloading?

  • Anonymous

    “He thanks God—and doctors and nurses….” He forgot to thank the American taxpayer that footed his bill.

    • He didn’t forget SH! It was intentional!

  • Anonymous

    They have the nerve to claim the hospital will foot most of this bill as a “charity” case!?!? What absolute rubbish! Hospitals are businesses just like any other – there is no way they are taking this all on the chin, NO WAY!  One way or the other, you KNOW this is getting passed on to those who MUST pay their pay – that being you and me!! 

  • “He’s stronger now. He can dress himself, make his bed—and walk, using a cane for balance. After a couple of weeks convalescing at an uncle’s home in Red Bluff, Fuentes will go to Mexico to live with his parents and work at their small, tortilla-making business.”

    I see..,now that he’s fleeced the American tax payers for millions of dollars of gratis health care they themselves would have never received, he’s going home to work in his parents’ tortilla-making business.
    Why do I feel ripped off after reading this! Any ideas?

  • Anonymous

    staying in the acute care section is a few thousand a day, + this guys 12 surgeries we’d easily be looking at a base of 1 million dollars+ of what it cost. 

  • In mexico there is no treatment if you have no money.

  • Anonymous

    I think this is why the Republican politicians want to cut Medicare for the elderly;  to free up billions to care for illegals (and legal immigrants) and the “poor”.   Sure, the Republicans talk about cutting Medicaid too but I believe most of the cuts will affect poor whites.  Poor elderly whites who need nursing home care are waiting longer because there are so many elderly immigrants also on the waiting list.  There are so many elderly immigrants on Medicaid in NYC who have never contributed a penny to this country.    Republicans don’t have the guts to tell illegals, legals and the poor who are irresponsible that there will be cuts to their freebies.  And the courts will NEVER allow it to happen anyway.  When people who work for their benefits or pay for their benefits have less healthcare than people on Medicaid or the uninsured, something is seriously wrong.  How much longer will the taxpayers remain relatively silent?  I don’t bother to mention the Democrats or Obamacare.  We know where they’re coming from.   In NYC the Medicaid benefits are VERY generous. 

  • Tom in MI

    This story proves that America is morally superior to xenophobic and isolationist countries like Japan

    • … as long as it’s OPM paying the bill.

  • Two quick comments: this is the sort of thing that financially ruined the ERs and small hospitals in California’s Central Valley between 1985 and 1995.

    Second, this is the sort of thing that drives calls for nationalized health care (HC) or health insurance (“single payer”). Guess what? Once everybody has a “right to free health care” (why not free food? free housing? free cars?), the “moral hazard” is realized — fools act even more foolishly since “somebody else” pays for their HC. HC costs skyrocket and the government decides who can get what HC (acc to gov’t budgetary considerations) rather than individuals deciding for themselves. 

    Plus, in order to control skyrocketing HC expenses, the gov’t will claim authority to regulate all of life to minimize HC costs. “Who pays the piper calls the tune.” Goodbye McDonald’s french frys! Goodbye guns. Goodbye cigars. Goodbye 6-packs. Goodbye scented candles. Goodbye to whatever some bureaucrat decides negatively impacts your “health” broadly construed to include physical, mental, social, and emotional well being. 

    Liberals “bait” you with utopia, and then “switch” to give you a totalitarian state instead (goodbye freedom). 

  • The article states that he has been in the US since 1997. I wonder where home is for him Mexico or the US?

    • No need to wonder Crystal. Home for illegal invaders is always their beloved mexico!

  • Anonymous

    Gee, I hate to sound like one of those bitter vets, but I’m 70% service connected for a shoulder injury I sustained in Iraq, and I was told at the VA that though I have military tricare, I cannot have any dental work done until I am 100% service connected. Oh, well. Mayhaps some minor tragedy will befall me, and I will be afforded the same kinds of courtesies extended to this fellow.

  • Anonymous

     Someone should figure out how much Mexican nationals have run up the US in costs, whether prison, medical, etc., and charge everything to the Mexican government.  Illegal immigration would stop overnight.

  • Anonymous

    Same thing in my family, Mr. Fleagle. My husband was sent to the ER and the bill was $10,000. He was in overnight, however, and fortunately everything turned out okay. But without the excellent insurance we have, I guess he would have been another statistic, while some criminal can break into our country (which is our home) and get all sorts of free care. I wish someone would ask the candidates about things like this, but no one has the courage.

  • Anonymous

    $100 million is what America spends on illegal alien healthcare just at the emergency rooms at each of America’s large hospitals. This adds up to billions and billions yearly. We must challenge the liberal/socialists/marxists democrats and send these lawbreakers out of our country at once. Then we can fix the immigration laws so that our nation does not become a third world nightmare due to all the idiots streaming into our land

  • Anonymous

    I hope they send the Mexican government the bill.

  • Anonymous

    Not to worry; he’ll be back soon. Between his diet and/or behavior (which likely caused the initial health problem) and required follow-ups, he’ll be a regular.

    I, on the other hand, as self-employed, have barely enough money to pay for a catastrophic policy of 60/40 with $5,000 deductible. I’m due for a yearly exam, but can’t afford to go. God help me if I get sick.

    Makes you mad enough to get your gun.

  • Anonymous

    It’s disturbing to think that he could have moved to California and obtained a master’s degree in Chicano studies from the CSU system and spent the rest of his life agitating for the overthrow of the U.S. all paid for by American taxpayers.  

  • Anonymous

    Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami is a huge medical complex which is the lone trauma care facility left in South Florida and it also has the University of Miami Medical School located there as well as several separate, specialized units as large as most hospitals.  For some time now, mainly hispanics from Mexico, Central America and South America, have purchased travel packages that are one-way tickets to the Miami International Airport and an arranged taxi to take them to Jackson Memorial Hospital for treatment. Usually these are surgical cases or in other instances, communicable diseases such as the new, incurable TB. None of these “patients” are citizens yet the hospital can not turn away cases that are an emergency or life-threatening. Of course those that travel here and stay here illegally are treated in the same manner. All are paid for by the American Taxpayer. Numerous expose’s have been conducted by local media but to no avail. If you are an American citizen and find yourself in the Jackson ER as a patient, I will pray for you. It will be an experience similar to participating in a Fellini film or perhaps a character in some end of the world scifi novel.