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Weeping Image of Jesus at Florida Hospital Explained

ORLANDO, Fla., April 17 /PRNewswire/ -- As millions of emails by faithful Christians circulate around the world with links to the story about the weeping image of Jesus Christ at Florida Hospital's Prayer Garden, a leading Latino consumer advocacy group offered an explanation today: "Jesus was weeping at the deplorable pricing and collection practices of Florida Hospital -- a billion-dollar religious hospital operation run by millionaire executives that has little if anything to do with 'the healing mission of Christ.'"

According to K.B. Forbes, Executive Director of the Consejo de Latinos Unidos, "Jesus is weeping at a so-called religious hospital system that pulled in over $1 billion in profits between 2003 and 2006, sits on $ 2.3 billion in cash and assets and yet refused to help a dying, uninsured child in his time of need. What compassionate organization would spend $25 million on collection fees in a three year period and yet refuse to help a young boy from getting the care he desperately needed?"

The story of Rodney Vega has been a battle cry for people who want organizations like Florida Hospital/Adventist Health System to be stripped of their not for-profit status and master trust indentures which allow them to issue bonds and pay no income, earnings, or property taxes.

In the spring of 2004, Rodney Vega, then 5-years-old, needed a brain tumor removed. Florida Hospital appears to have refused to provide help after a physician in Miami told Rodney's mother that her son had two weeks to live. She contacted the Consejo, which arranged for Rodney's long-term treatment.

What is astonishing about their plight is that the Vegas are practicing Adventists, and Rodney's father is a pastor for the church. Florida Hospital claims to be an "Adventist" entity, yet did nothing to help the family. In May of 2005, Florida Hospital, the flagship hospital of the Adventist Health System, appears to have attempted to "bribe and intimidate" the Vega family with a free ocean cruise after family members met with staff members of the powerful U.S. House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee to tell them about their plight. Sadly, Rodney Vega passed away in Philadelphia in December of 2006.

The Consejo, which has published ten investigative reports, helped spur at least three U.S. Congressional hearings on hospital abuses. Consejo's work was profiled on CBS' 60 Minutes in 2006. Late last year, K.B. Forbes was named by HealthLeaders Magazine as one of the top 20 people making a difference in making healthcare better in the United States. Forbes denies being an expert on acheiropoieta artifacts or miraculous appearances.

SOURCE Consejo de Latinos Unidos
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