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American Trapped at Phuket Hospital as Patong Bank Puzzles Over Missing 640,000 Baht

Friday, June 28, 2013
PHUKET: Without help from a trustworthy source, it's feared that American George Harris may remain trapped inside a Phuket hospital and never be able to fly home.

Mr Harris, 53, has been at Vachira Phuket Hospital in Phuket City for 10 months after a motorcycle crash. He cannot talk and is not yet capable of fending for himself.

What has alarmed the hospital senior staff is the disappearance of a 640,000 baht disability payment that could have put Mr Harris on a flight home.

The hospital's international matron, Methavee Maneesri, is holding Mr Harris's passport because a second cheque for a 740,000 baht disability payment is now waiting to be claimed at a Phuket bank.

''If George loses this money, he will lose his chance to fly home,'' Khun Methavee said today. ''We are in a difficult situation and unsure about who we can trust.''

Earlier this year, Mr Harris's brother Hal and hospital staff shared hopes for George's transfer back to the US. but Khun Mathavee has opted not to give George's passport to Hal since discovering that George's signature had been forged on a document at a Patong bank.

''George has not been able to leave the hospital for 10 months so it was not George who signed for the money,'' she said.

At the time, Hal Harris had George's passport but returned it to the hospital when it was needed for documentation in preparation for a medivac flight home.

All planning for George's return has now ceased as Vachira Phuket awaits news from the Krungtep Bank about the disappearance of the first large disability payment.

Insurance payouts from the motorcycle crash covered George's brain surgery but he is still unable to talk and not capable of making decisions.

The hospital is prepared to waive the unpaid 400,000 baht in medical costs so far if George can be put safely on a medivac flight home and has someone reliable waiting at the other end in Dallas, Texas.

''We are not holding the passport as blackmail but for George's safety,'' Khun Methavee said today.

The hospital and George's brother Hal joined in a Phuket newspaper campaign to raise money to help fly him home in April.

Only later did the hospital discovered that the large cheque intended for George had disappeared in February, Khun Mathavee said.

''The US Embassy has been unable to provide answers about George's future care,'' Khun Methavee said. ''It's a very upsetting case. George appears to have been a victim twice.

''We aim to make sure that George does not become a victim for a third time.''

According to Khun Mathavee, the embassy suggested that George be reported to the Immigration Department as an overstay and that would start the process leading to his return to the US.

However, Khun Mathavee does not accept that as a solution because, with his brother Hal no longer considered trustworthy, George would still be without anyone to care for him.

''He could be here for years if there is no resolution,'' she said. ''But if that is what it takes, it may be the only way we can protect George.''

Comments

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Khun Mathavee sounds like a very special caring person, dealing with a tragic and difficult situation. I don't understand the logic in the US Embassy saying report him to Immigration as an overstay as clearly he is not physically able to complete a Visa run and he is not staying intentionally.

Posted by Fiesty Farang on June 28, 2013 15:08

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Great job, Phuketwan, for thoroughly covering this. Certainly interested to hear what Hal Harris would have to say about this entire ordeal.

On a side note, finding out how the disability payment 'disappeared' should not be so hard for the bank.

Posted by J on June 28, 2013 15:30

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Outstanding attitude from Khun Mathavee and what a great gesture from the Hospital to waiver its fees. Not often do you get good new and bad news mixed that will lift the spirit and put back a little trust in humanity.

Khun Mathavee needs full recognition and should be a role model to the islands administrators.

Posted by Graham on June 28, 2013 20:43

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Lucky this didn't happen to George in China. If the hospital thought it wasn't going to get paid it would throw him onto the street immediately.

Posted by Brendab on June 29, 2013 10:20

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Brendab, have you been thrown out from hospital in China before? or was it just another hear-say?

Posted by steve on June 30, 2013 08:19

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Quote "However, Khun Mathavee does not accept that as a solution because, with his brother Hal no longer considered trustworthy, George would still be without anyone to care for him.
" Wouldn't George be under the care of an American hospital, if he was released and allowed to go back home. Also, no mention of any other family members, the hospital seems to focusing on Hal, and George is being used as a pawn, in this terrible chess game.

Posted by Phuket_IOC on June 30, 2013 11:27

Editor Comment:

And there's a black side, and a white side. You just confuse them every time.

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Good job Khun Mathavee and to Vachira Phuket Hospital for caring about this unfortunate fellow, As for brother Hal, I think you got some explaining to do.

Posted by Jimmy Rawai on June 30, 2013 12:51

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Kudos Phuketwan for covering this desperate situation ... I think Graham hit right on, Khun Mathavee and the hospital should be awarded somehow for their efforts and sincere caring ... I truly hope this gets worked out. Hang tough, George.

Posted by Ted Davis on July 1, 2013 09:27


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