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'Permanent Patient' featured in Rock Center report leaves hospital

By Dustin Stephens
Rock Center

A stroke victim living at a Brooklyn hospital, once expected to remain there for the rest of her life, left this month for a skilled nursing facility after waiting two years for Medicaid assistance.

Following a long series of legal and bureaucratic struggles, Medicaid agreed to provide funding for Fatima Khydarova’s move to a nearby long-term care facility. 

Khydarova’s stay at Maimonides Medical Center was first reported in an investigation for NBC’s Rock Center with Brian Williams regarding tens of thousands of permanent patients across the country effectively stuck in hospitals with no place to go.

Khydarova received Medicaid through a little-known public benefits regulation in New York known as PRUCOL (Permanently Residing Under Color of Law).  It allows certain undocumented residents to qualify for Medicaid and other benefits.

“This was a time intensive, difficult case for us,” said attorney Ann Dibble through a spokesperson. 

Dibble and fellow attorney Randye Retkin began helping Khydarova’s family in May of 2010 as part of their work at LegalHealth, a division of the New York Legal Assistance Group that provides free legal services to hospital patients and their families.

Khydarova arrived at Maimonides in 2010 after suffering an incapacitating stroke.  It left her unable to walk or talk, but doctors deemed her well enough after a few weeks to move to a skilled nursing facility.  However, she was uninsured and could not afford the roughly $350 a day cost of the nursing facility.  Khydarova also did not automatically qualify for Medicaid because she was not a U.S. citizen.  An established history professor from Uzbekistan, she had come to the United States on a tourist visa to visit her family in New York. 

Khydarova’s grandchildren said that her family also had neither the money to pay for a skilled nursing facility nor the resources to tend to their grandmother at home who needs around-the-clock care. 

Social workers at the hospital searched for years for a facility that would accept her as a charity patient but found no place that would take her without funding.  With no safe place to discharge Khydarova, she remained at Maimonides at a cost to the hospital of around $1,100 per day.

“She could stay here potentially for the rest of her life,” Maimonides CEO and President Pamela Brier told Rock Center’s Kate Snow in a February interview.

When asked about Khydarova’s departure, a representative from Maimonides said they were surprised to learn that she qualified for Medicaid, but it is unclear what influence the Rock Center report had on the decision

According to data from the National Inpatient Sample database at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, cases such as Khydarova’s appear to be on the rise.  From 2005 to 2009, the last years for which data was available, uninsured hospital patients with no access to Medicare or Medicaid in need of long term care increased 20 percent. 

Editor's Note: Click here to watch Kate Snow's full report, 'Patients in Limbo.'