The Americas

Retired Idaho teacher says she's held hostage in Mexican hospital

A retired Idaho school teacher claims a hospital in a Mexican resort is holding her hostage until she pays a multi-thousand dollar bill.

Vikki Moormann, a former English teacher at Coeur d’Alene High School in Idaho, was vacationing in the Mexican coastal city of Nuevo Vallarta with her sister-in-law in late April when she began vomiting uncontrollably. After checking into the Hospital San Javier Riviera Nayarit, she was told by doctors that she had a urinary tract infection and was on the brink of pneumonia – a diagnosis that seemed strange to Moormann who said that aside from her stomach issues she felt fine.

“I wonder if I’m being extorted,” Moormann told Fox News in a phone call from her hospital room. “I’m good enough to get out of the hospital, but they won’t let me go until I pay the bill.”

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When questioned about Moormann’s status, a representative from the hospital told Fox News that the patient’s family is working with the hospital to pay the bill and that Moormann is not well enough to leave the hospital until, at the very least, Saturday when her flight home is scheduled to depart.

The hospital representative, who refused to identify herself by name, said that the retired educator was “content” and blamed the media and Moormann’s son for the reports that she was being held against her will.

 “We can’t physically hold her in the hospital," the representative said "No one is going to hold her against her will.”

The hospital bill, which she said started at $15,000, has risen to $40,000 and kept the 67-year-old retiree trapped in the beachside hospital as her family frantically struggles to gather the funds. Moormann said that despite the efforts of her son Ryen, a cook back in Idaho who has set-up a GoFundMe page, the family doesn’t have enough to pay the ever-increasing bill.

“It’s up to $40,000,” a clearly exasperated Moormann said. “I don’t have that kind of money.”

Moormann said that she has paid $1,000 of the bill and her son has contributed $5,000. She has also said she would pay a monthly fee to the hospital if released.

Speaking to a local Idaho news outlet earlier this week, Ryen Moormann's son added that even if the family does scrounge up enough money to pay the hospital bill, they won’t have any funds left over to fly her back home if she misses her pre-booked flight. The family has also reached out to the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Consular Agency in Puerto Vallarta, but said that so far no resolution has been reached.

Despite the hospital representatives assurances, Moormann and her son both continue to say that she is being kept in the hospital until her bill is paid in full. Ryen Moormann recently posted a Facebook video of a conversation he had with another hospital representative in which he is told that Vikki will be held in the hospital until the family pays up.

During the Fox News conversation with Moormann, the phone call cut out numerous times and when the reporter called her room back, the phone was answered by a hospital representative who said Moormann was busy.

The trip to Mexico was supposed to be a way for the former schoolteacher to relax as the one-year anniversary of her husband’s death approaches.

“I’m just so frustrated,” Moormann said. “I feel like I’m a hostage here.”

Since ending her teaching career, Moormann has become a published author, penning a series of murder-mysteries set in Coeur d’Alene along with fellow retired educators Yvonne Deitz and Susan Schreiber.