January 24, 2011

Update on Liz

A photo of Liz from February 2010

Our friend Liz has had all of the tubes removed and is getting a little stronger every day. She has been released to go home by her doctors but the hospital will not release her until she pays her bill or gets a co-signer on a bank loan to pay it.

Sure, the private hospital needs and deserves to paid. There is no doubt that they saved her life and have to be paid in order to keep offering the quality of medical care that they offer, but you might ask how is it possible that a person can be held hostage for a bill? All I can say about that is that this is Honduras and that is the way it is. The hospital has been burned by foreigners and others before so they have to protect themselves.

A lot of money has been raised for Liz by her friends. The first night in the Roatan hospital (US $5,000) has been paid as has the medical evacuation flight to San Pedro. Approximately US $20,000 has been paid toward her San Pedro Cemesa Hospital bill so far.

We've heard that some of the kind doctors at Cemesa have waived or lowered their fees for treating Liz, given the circumstances. Unfortunately, she is still left with more than US $39,000 to pay on the hospital bill for which it looks like she is going to have to get an expensive bank loan. We know that Liz is also going to have hand surgery, medical followups, and expensive dental work later on.

A lot of people are outraged that the victim in this case is facing long term financial hardship through no fault of her own. I've learned over the years — the hard way — that it rarely accomplishes anything to stand up for what is right or just, or insist on what should happen, or shouldn't happen, or who should be legally responsible or who shouldn't. I know that is a sad statement, but this is Honduras, where justice of any kind is a very rare commodity for anyone.

When I made my donation, all I could think about was that Liz was in critical condition and needed the help that she could only get in a private hospital. I am 100% convinced that had Liz stayed in a public hospital that she would no longer be with us; public health care is that bad. What happened to Liz could happen to any one of us, expatriates and Hondurans, and we need to pull together to help out an innocent victim of a horrendous crime.

To those of you who have donated, I thank you very much. To those of you who have been thinking about it, please make your donation as soon as possible because every bit received before Liz has to sign the bank loan will help. Just email me for Liz's bank account information both at BAC here in Honduras and her bank in the US.


Liz has been really overwhelmed by the generosity. And here is a personal thank you from Liz herself:

I have been thinking about how to write a thank you to everyone who helped me in all the different ways since the attack Dec 17.

Piecing together the events, I do not know all your names or even the actions that you took during this time. I do know that my Roatan family of friends, neighbors, acquaintances, business people, Oak Ridge Police, and co-workers, were all there for me from the moment I was discovered, carried, and placed in the police car - held in the arms of two construction workers who prayed the entire way to Coxen Hole and kept telling me to "Hang on, Miz Liz".

I do not remember much after that - flashes of people, as many men carried me up the stairs to surgery. I thought then I was going to be dropped, and also thinking that Ben was going to hurt his back lifting me. I saw Steve H, I remember a flash of being put on the plane and Patty G beside me squatting on the floor, and the seat right above me being put in place and thinking if that falls on me....Bernadette telling me all was going to be ok....next waking in ICU in Cemesa Hospital and seeing my sister Rebecca and Vegas and being told it was a week later.

I now know that so many of you donated a lot of money to cover the medical care at Woods Clinic, where the excellent surgeon Doctora Sanchez is credited with saving my life with surgeries. You provided money for the medical flight to get me from Roatan to San Pedro Sula and more money toward the medical bills here at Cemesa. You have sent and are still sending prayers, healing light, positive thoughts. I know that many friends from the East and West Ends spent the entire night at Woods watching over me, thinking the damage was too extensive to survive.

How can I truly express to each of you how deeply I love and appreciate all you have done for me? I am trying with this email. Hoping that those who do not have email will be passed this message of thanks.

Cemesa Hospital has provided excellent care for me from the doctors to the aides and nurses. I am told that costs have been reduced by the hospital as well as by doctors. These people are very professional, hard workers, and I am so impressed with their abilities.

Again, I thank everyone for all you have done for me. Yes, there is more to do, much more recovery, and medical bill issues that have to be worked through. Poco a poco....step by step.

Thank you each and every one for every thing you have offered and given,
from my heart,
Liz Riggs


See the story of what happened to Liz here: A friend in need

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