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Man in Hospital for Six Years

July 6, 1998

NEW YORK (AP) _ A man beaten and left for dead on a street in 1991 has been in a hospital ever since, racking up a $3.9 million bill in the process, the New York Post reported today.

Ahsan Raja, a Pakistani immigrant in his 40s with no known family in this country, has been kept in a postsurgical ward of Elmhurst Hospital Center since doctors removed a blood clot from his brain more than six years ago.

``He has been tied up for almost seven years and has been treated worse than an animal and worse than a prisoner of war,″ said attorney Robert Abrams, an expert on the court-run guardian system. ``The hospital has gotten paid for strapping a man to a bed.″

Abrams accused the hospital of using Raja to run up a huge Medicaid bill.

But Elmhurst’s executive director, Pete Velez, said the hospital is unlikely to collect much more than $650,000 of the $3.9 million bill, an amount he said would not cover the hospital’s expenses.

Raja, mugged in December 1991, was blinded in the attack. During six recent visits by a Post reporter, Raja grunted only incoherent responses to questions.

Acute-care hospitals like Elmhurst are primarily for short-term and emergency patients. Patients with severe injuries typically are cared for at long-term facilities where they can undergo rehabilitation.

The state Department of Health is reviewing Raja’s care, as is the hospital.

``This is an unusually long period of time for someone to be in an acute-care facility,″ Velez said. ``I think everyone acknowledges that his condition makes it difficult to place him in any institution.″

Raja’s guardian for the past two years, lawyer Kate Christoforatos, said his condition has deteriorated and she has been unable to move him to a nursing facility.

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