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Couple stuck in Mexico over medical payment, 2 Works For You intervenes

Posted at 6:43 PM, Jun 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-18 19:51:04-04

CHOUTEAU, Okla. -- A couple was being held in Mexico after a medical emergency left them with a bill for several thousand dollars.

Bernadette and Dwayne Givens of Chouteau were celebrating their 24th wedding anniversary in Cozumel.

The two are avid scuba divers. Bernadette said her husband is an instructor level diver.

The trouble struck for the couple last Monday on the sixth dive of their vacation.

 "He lost feeling from the waist down and he couldn't move his legs," Bernadette said.

Dwayne was temporarily paralyzed from the waist down. He was rushed to the hospital.

After running tests, doctors found Dwayne had Decompression Sickness 2, meaning he had an air bubble in this spinal cord that was restricting blood flow.

"It was really scary for me at that point, because I didn't know if it was going to continue to get worse or if it was going to get better," Bernadette said.

Dwayne's condition improved after doing hours of treatments in a Hyperbaric chamber. The treatment cost the couple more than $22,000.

"They did tell us if we did not pay the bill that they could detain us until the bill is paid and that scared me," Bernadette said.

She was able to pay the emergency room bill. The $22,000 was just for the Hyperbaric chamber.

The Cozumel Hospital most recently told the couple they just need a letter of guaranteed payment from Community Care, the couple's insurance company. They also said the couple would be responsible for whatever the insurance would not cover before they could leave the country.

Bernadette said she kept getting the run around from Community Care.

"They'll say just one minute or give us a phone number that is a fax number and not an actual phone number and they know that we're in Mexico," Bernadette said. "They know it's hard to make phone calls."

Bernadette, a registered nurse, considered working at the hospital to earn money to put towards the bill.

"You're thankful that he's OK and you're like, 'Oh, the money is OK. That's not the problem. I can always work another shift when I get home,'" Bernadette said.

We reached out to Community Care and Senator Jim Inhofe and Senator James Lankford's offices.

Both of the senator's offices were very willing to get involved.

Before they could, Community Care sent over a letter to the Cozumel hospital guaranteeing payment. The Givens only owe $1,200 and they can leave the country.

Bernadette said she will never vacation without traveler's insurance ever again.

Sally Briggs, a leisure consultant with Journey House Travel in Tulsa, said there are several different policies that are offered.

She said the policies allow you to cancel your trip or cut it short for illness, death or other emergencies.

Depending on your age and where you are traveling, it can cost as little as about $100.

"You can call, 'Well I don't have this,'" Briggs said. "Well, they are there to cover you and to help you. If you have young children or elderly parents. That is where we see it used most of all, but you know accidents can happen on your trip too."

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