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Vancouver family says daughter 'kidnapped' by Mexican hospital

Brandi Gallagher (left) and her mother, Debi, speak to KATU News on Tuesday via video chat from Mexico. (KATU Photo)

VANCOUVER, Wash. — A Vancouver family says they were ordered to pay $55,000 to a Mexican hospital when their daughter was hurt on vacation in Cabo San Lucas on Sunday.

"Nobody was allowed to come talk to me. The (hospital) watched my every move. I couldn't go the bathroom, no pain meds, nothing," Brandi Gallagher told KATU News over a video call from a hospital in Cabo San Lucas.

Gallagher said she fell and punctured a lung. She said she was taken to a hospital, but they wouldn't treat her until they were paid.

In Vancouver, Debi Gallagher, Brandi's mother, said Saint Luke's Hospital called her.

"They stopped treatment," Debi Gallagher said. "They wouldn't give her pain meds, wouldn't give her water."

"We didn't know anything other than she fell and she's in the hospital," said Kim Tortora, Brandi's aunt.

Family said they contacted the U.S. Consulate's Office and tried to get help.

On Tuesday morning, Debi and her husband flew down to Los Cabos to try and get her taken to another hospital.

"An administrator kept her in a room, no water, not going to the bathroom, no pain meds, no more treatment. They wouldn't let anybody near her. That's kidnapping," Debi Gallagher said.

Eventually, Debi said, with the help from the U.S. Consulate's Office she said the hospital was paid $33,000 to get her transferred to another hospital.

In May 2016, the U.S. Embassy and Consulate's Office in Mexico warned travelers about hospitals in the Los Cabos area.

"The U.S. Consulate has documented cases involving allegations of Los Cabos-area hospitals withholding care for payment, price gouging, failing to provide an itemized list of charges, withholding U.S. passports, obstructing needed medical evacuations, giving monetary incentives to ambulances for delivering patients to specific facilities, and holding patients at hospitals against their will pending payment," the U.S. Embassy's Office said.

In April 2016, Mexican federal authorities ordered Saint Luke's and other area hospitals to end operations and stop admitting new patients, according to the U.S. Embassy's Office.

The U.S. Consulate's Office recommends certain hospitals for people in the area, including Bluenet Hospital, where Gallagher was transferred too.

For the vacation, Brandi Gallagher did not purchase medical insurance for her trip. She believes it could have been avoided if she had the right insurance. She said her case should be a warning for everyone traveling internationally.

"Know where you have to go, know the hospitals that are safe. I didn't know this hospital wasn't safe," she said.

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