Ryen and Vikki Moormann, at home in Idaho yesterday. Ryen and Vikki Moormann, at home in Idaho yesterday. the spokesman-review

Woman says hospital held her hostage

Nuevo Vallarta hospital demanded payment of $30,000 before she could leave

A woman who claims she was held hostage in a Nayarit hospital until she paid her bill is back in the United States, happy to be home but certain she will never return to Mexico.


Vikki Moormann, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, was staying at her time-share in Nuevo Vallarta May 2 when she began feeling ill.

She went to the San Javier Riviera de Nayarit Hospital where she was diagnosed with diabetic ketoacidosis, a complication of diabetes. But after she was treated she appeared to go into a coma, according to her son, Ryen Moormann.

He admitted that a language barrier contributed to confusion early on but he eventually spoke with a doctor who said she would be fine. She would be released within five days, during which time her condition would be monitored, he said.

But on May 8, when Moormann went to leave, she said armed guards with rifles blocked her exit. She wouldn’t be allowed to leave until she had paid her bill, she was told.

Her son said until that point nothing had been said about a bill and that when his mother was admitted she was not told it was a private hospital.

Moormann spent several more days confined to her room, the hospital insisting she could not leave until she paid the more than US $30,000 she owed.


Ryen Moormann said U.S. consulate officials told him the hospital could not keep his mother against her will. But when she attempted to leave a second time, local police showed up and threatened to arrest her sister-in-law.

In the end, he said, it was pressure from politicians and the U.S. State Department that persuaded the hospital to relent, provided he paid another $5,000 toward the bill. Payments by Vikki Moormann with cash and credit cards had brought the original bill down from $40,000.

Although her son has a tape of a telephone conversation with someone at the hospital who insisted his mother could not leave as long as the bill was unpaid, another hospital representative told Fox News that they could not physically hold her against her will.

She described Moormann as “content,” and blamed the media and Moormann’s son for the reports she was being held captive.

After Ryen Moormann paid the requested $5,000 the hospital provided his mother with transportation to the airport on Friday. They said they didn’t know what the final bill would be or how they would pay it.

Ryen Moormann has set up a page on gofundme.com, seeking to raise $30,000. As of today the total donated was $4,355.

Although Vikki Moorman has owned her time-share for more than 20 years, she may never use it again.

“I’ll tell you, I’m never going back,” she told The Spokesman-Review newspaper. “It was the most horrible experience of my life.”

Source: The Spokesman-Review (en), Fox News (en)

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  • harvey

    from this, the story would imply she didn’t carry health insurance for the time she was in Mexico.

  • Stylez

    I sure it will be a fraction of what her bill would be in the US. In the US they just have more discrete and manipulative ways of collecting the money.

  • k9saver

    Travel insurance is a wonderful thing, never leave the house without it. Imagine a business wanting to be paid, the nerve!.

  • John Francis

    It-s too bad she didn’t have the -800- telephone number fpr Jalisoco New Generatiomn Cartel. They don-t allow kidnapping and extortion! I have been extorted by a local GP named Roberto Woo in Costalegra and had and excellant extortionist (A plus rated for TRAMPA!) try their his attempt at extortion. a bone surgeon named ‘Delgado’ surgeon at Manzanillo General Hospital in early 2010. As much as I loathe organized criminal gangs, I hate crooked doctors worse! At least the professional crooks can be discreet about it, unlike a greedy and avarice driven doctor who feels the need to rip of the very poor and every other client he can. Ethical doctors, take a bow!
    PS: I have documentary proof of these extortion demands so there is very little Dr, Woo and the other clown can do but bob their collective Adam’s Apple. deny any culpability and hide for the rest of my in house stay. The hospital must be complicit here. Outing them with documentary proof went as sooth as silk,as was my way out of the hell- hole they call a hospital! Gangsters in white coats!¿!

  • Kathleen Taormina

    even her regular health insurance would cover for emergency treatment while traveling.

    • gtodon

      She’s of Medicare age. With rare exceptions, Medicare doesn’t cover anything outside the U.S., even emergencies.

  • Beau

    How dare those bad hombres from a Mexican Private hospital asking to be paid for services rendered that saved this lady’s life??? Lesson learned—next time take her to a public hospital where she’ll die waiting for someone to help her in the emergency room.

  • gypsyken

    This article illustrates a major reason why, after living in Mexico for 13 years, I am now in the U.S. In July 2015, during what was intended to be a brief visit to Puerto Vallarta to exchange a failed device that I had purchased there, the friend with me was suddenly stricken with excruciating pain. I took him to the nearby hospital, where a tumor, not previously diagnosed during his checkups every six months by his physician in Houston, was found on one of his kidneys, and immediate removal of tumor and kidney was declared to be necessary. Surgery was delayed by one day for blood transfusions, and on the morning when the surgery was to be done, I received a call saying that I must go to the hospital at once. I found my friend prepped for surgery, two surgeons waiting to perform it, and the hospital administration demanding more money before it would permit the surgery to proceed. That would be illegal in the U.S., and it led me to consider what would happen to me if I were incapacitated in Mexico without someone to provide the money that a hospital might demand to treat me. In the U.S., I must merely present my Medicare card, whatever treatment I need will be provided, and the hospital will then proceed to collect (or try to collect) whatever copay I am liable for. In addition, a neighbor in San Antonio Tlayacapan, where I lived, died as a direct result of being discharged prematurely after surgery to repair a hip broken in a fall, because he did not have the money that the hospital required to keep him. (I have also read horror stories of people not being discharged from Guadalajara hospitals until their credit cards had been exhausted.) I miss living in Mexico, but despite all the very serious problems associated with medical care in the U.S., such care is much more secure there for people like me or my friend who have Medicare cards. (In addition, the increasing violence in Mexico, reported in every issue of Mexico News Daily, would dissuade me from returning to it.)

  • 2guysnamedjoe

    A 5 Dy hospital stay for $30,000? By US hospital standards, that’s getting off easy.

  • smartgirl06


    Having a medical background it is beyond unbelievable re: the ‘diagnosis’ she was given according to the Mexican hospital which went from her throwing up being caused by (1) ‘urinary tract infection,’ then they said it was (2) ‘ketoacidosis’ (a diabetic related medical condition) and (3) near pneumonia—for which THEY PUT HER INTO A COMA AND INTUBATED HER—–AN ACT WHICH TOOK ALL CONVERSATION, RESISTANCE, POWER AND ABILITY OF THE PATIENT TO WALK OUT ON HER OWN AWAY—- VS ALLOWING HER TO LEAVE. THE HOSPITAL KEPT HER THERE AGAINST HER WILL BY PUTTING HER INTO THE COMA IN THE FIRST PLACE–THEY DID NOT ALLOW HER TO HAVE POWER OVER WHAT HAPPENED TO HER AND KEEPING HER AS A HOSTAGE IS NOT ACCEPTABLE AND THE CONSULATE SHOULD HAVE INTERVENED SOONER.

    This whole story makes no sense from a symptom perspective—if she had pneumonia she would still be sick—that does not go away in 2 days, and ketoacidosis would need stabilizing and the patient did not trust or believe what they were saying to her because she was feeling better and wanted to leave and it is beyond possible THEY decided to make some money off an American who happened to get sick on their watch in their district—but putting ARMED GUARDS to keep her from leaving is outrageous—-their people—the MEXICANS COME OVER HERE TO THE USA AND NOT ONLY ARE TREATED FOR A ZERO DOLLAR PAYMENT WHICH IS WHY THERE ARE NO MORE TRAUMA CENTERS–THE HOSPITALS COULD NOT AFFORD TO TREAT PEOPLE W/O INSURANCE WHO USED THE ER’S AS DR OFFICE VISITS. WE PUT THEIR ILLEGAL KIDS INTO PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND PAY FOR THEIR EDUCATION WITH TAX DOLLARS AND GIVE THEM WAYS OF GETTING FOOD, MEDICAL HELP, SOCIAL HELP, ETC—-WHAT THE MEXICAN HOSPITAL DID WAS UNETHICAL AND UNPROFESSIONAL AND IF THIS HAPPENED TO ANY ONE OF OUR MOTHER’S THERE IS NO WAY WE WOULD BE O.K. WITH IT—-


    People are not the same when they lose their spouse and they don’t necessarily think or are able to reason or know things that the spouse who no longer is there used to take care of.

  • paul

    Ive been to this same Hospital 7-8 times an is better than any hospital in San Diego Calif. area / Mexico is #5 in the world in Medical care n the USA isnt even in the top 20 any more !!! The doctors at both their hospitals in the PV area are english speaking n some trained in the USA also / Ive never had anything but top of the line care at both of their Hospitals an have no Mexican Insurance , just give them my visa card never had a bad time checking in or out / Dont be leave everything you hear about private hospitals in Mexico I think they are the best in care an equipment n service Ive ever gotten any were in my life / Their is alot more to this story that isnt being said , bet on it , this hospital is my hospital for the passed 8 plus years when in Mexico !!!

    • Felipe_Calderoff

      How could a functional illiterate like you possibly know that a Mexican hospital is better than one in San Diego? You are a Mexican working for that hospital, right?

      • paul

        I grew up in southern Calif. since 1953 an have worked in SanDiego since the age of 14 teen doing odd jobs ect. Iam native American Indian n worked my ass off in Industrial sales working mostly in Gov. at north island / 32nd st. naval base an Camp pelenton USMC an Sub Base to name a few ,for 35 years retired at age 56 in the PV area an have been to scrips hosp. all 3- of them / Mercy hosp. / Sharps hosp. an Palamar in poway in San Diego county so dont tell me what Ive done or what or where If been , Felipe did you make enough to retire at 56 ??? are you going to ??? didnt think so / I do not work for any hospital at any time / Iam an American living in Mexico for the passed 8 plus years fulltime an have been coming to this part of Mexico for over 35-years Iam a permit resedent in the area have a big home all paid in full 2- Mex. plated cars in Nay. how about you ??? Please tell all of us a little about your self so we can know who you are an where you come from , sounds to me your just pissed off with your bad luck n life to rag on someone that knows what – up with hospitals by the way Iam 64 years old and a wise older guy , how about your life story we would like to hear about you an your take on Mexican n American Hospitals , looking for all your wisdom on this subject / Thanks Paul !!!

        • Felipe_Calderoff

          Being from the San Diego area, then surely you read Spanish and know how screwed up Mexican hospitals are, right?

          Children cancer patients at Tijuana General Hospital have no medicine

          TIJUANA, Baja California – Due to the lack of supplies caused by the Baja California State Health Secretary, the lives of 40 pediatric cancer patients have been placed at risk for at least two weeks.

          Parents of those affected complained that in the last three months, the hospital has had difficulties to provide the medicine mercaptopurina, a type of chemotherapy necessary to their children to recover.

          “A little while ago, members of the Hospital Sponsors took steps to guarantee there was no lack of medicine, but now they can do nothing as there is a financial deficit,” said Señora Ana María Reyes, mother of an 11 year old patient.


  • cooncats

    The fact Mexican hospitals won’t let you go until the bill is paid is well known among the expats and Mexicans I know. What does surprise me is the size of the bill, that definitely should be questioned. My wife had major emergency surgery followed by 6 days hospitalization in one of the best GDL hospitals and the total cost including all doctors was less than $12K U.S.

    Unfortunately, the medical coverage problem in Mexico is what causes so many expats to eventually return to the U.S. as Ken has described. It is unfortunate that the U.S. doesn’t see that it is much cheaper to get treated down here and they are better off with us remaining here.

  • IHP

    Don’t go to a private hospital. Any ‘General Hospital’ in Mexico will treat you at no cost if you don’t have the money to pay. Otherwise, if you visit a PRIVATE (for profit) hospital you will pay. Also, if these people did not have money to pay the bill, travel insurance would not have helped. You must pay your bill and the travel insurance company will reimburse you. Mexico isn’t setup for an insurance structure because most people receive their care for free through the government system. SOME private hospitals will arrange payment, but not likely for a foreigner on a tourist visa, because once you return to your home country they cannot do anything. It’s not like they can start bill collection, wage garnishments, harassing phone calls, threatening letters, and ruining your credit like an American hospital would have done to them. So she should be thanking Mexico. If this happened to her in the USA they wouldn’t have held her hostage, they would have just forced her into bankruptcy and homelessness, it happens to millions of Americans in the USA.

  • Commander Barkfeather

    After reading this article, I am reminded of that famous Hollywood quotation that sums up the philosophy of for-profit free-enterprise capitalism, in what should be a human right in both countries: “It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s just business.”

  • MortimerSnerd

    ….this is happening more often now in Mexico, a friend of mine fell, and was taken to a ‘hospital’ in Cancun, and checked for 5 minutes by the resident intern. No problems, but the bill was $300 US. Shades of ripoff, US healthcare style.

    • Roberto Gonzalez

      Yeap, sadly is the reality of a country living in poverty and corruption. at least you can enjoy its nature because I can’t and I live here… that’s not fair… And the worst part is that I can’t do anything to fix it

  • matt

    “But when she attempted to leave a second time, local police showed up and threatened to arrest her sister-in-law.” – See more at: https://mexiconewsdaily.com/news/woman-says-hospital-held-her-hostage-over-bill/#sthash.h0lRMef0.dpuf
    Please, I want to learn more about how this works. Is it just for SILs or can we designate somebody else we’d like to see hauled off?

  • PD

    It is outrageous to think that people who travel without the proper travel health insurance get so indignant when they use the health care system!

  • charlette

    This is normal down there. My husband is Mexican and when his mother became ill, he went down there and took her to the nearest hospital. They would not feed her, he had to go and get food to bring to her, and they would only allow fruit. They also would give him prescriptions and he would have to go about 1/2 a mile to a pharmacy to purchase the meds. The nurses would tell him that he had to bathe and change his mothers diaper and that he was responsible for all of her care at night so they could sleep.
    After a week she was not getting any better and she demanded to go home where she could eat, they would not allow him to take her out until he paid the bill. And she supposedly was covered by the “Mexican” insurance that my husband had been paying for.

  • AKM

    Are these people that stupid to think they should receive medical services for free in a foreign country and then use social media for sympathy. Ask what the service would have cost in the U.S. and see if it would be free for tourists. Give your head a shake. This is not news, this is a Darwin award.

  • If you go to a private hospital in Mexico but you will have to pay. If you are going to reside in Mexico, purchase insurance for major expenses. (gastos mayores) It is not expensive and it covers you during and a deter your stay. I spent 2 months in Hospital Angeles in Tijuana with 3 surgeries, a private room and excellent care and I paid and total deductible of about 3000 dollars with insurance from GNP.