Where did elderly woman contract MRSA — and who is responsible?

(WSVN) - She came to visit her daughter, and it started a string of bad luck that ended with an infection possibly caused by a spider bite. Who, if anyone, is responsible for her medical bills? It’s why one woman called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Today, Gala is in the later years of her life, but what a life the 83-year-old has seen.

Gala Kosok, bitten by spider: “We saw Berlin burning.”

As a child, she lived thru World War II.

Gala Kosok: “And the Germans came to Serbia. My father wound up in forced labor when he was 49.”

Her father died in the labor camp.

The Germans also came for Gala and her mother.

Gala Kosok: “And the nuns took me into a church, they hid me under the floor of a church until they could smuggle me out.”

She got out, but more bad luck where the 10-year-old Gala was sent.

Gala Kosok: “They had all of us standing in front of a firing squad.”

An officer stopped the firing squad, and Gala was sent to a displacement camp before coming to America with her mother, where she got married and became an artist.

Gala Kosok: “I have two children, a son and a daughter, and the daughter lives in Florida.”

Last September, after her husband passed away, Gala decided to fly down to South Florida.

Gala Kosok: “Yes, to be closer to my daughter.”

On the flight from New Jersey, Gala got sick, and rather than risk getting her daughter sick, she checked into a hotel, where, unfortunately, a brown recluse spider found her.

Gala Kosok: “I did kill a spider in the room. I did kill it with strangely long legs.”

Unfortunately, the recluse spider had bitten her.

When her daughter came to pick her up, Gala told her the bite on her back hurt.

Gala Kosok: “When she saw my back, she said, ‘I am taking you to the emergency room,’ and they decided it’s an infected insect bite.”

The spider bite had swollen and had to be removed.

Gala Kosok: “And the surgery was two-hour surgery, and I had a hole in my back the size of an orange.”

Gala then went to a rehab center.

When an abscess erupted, doctors tested her.

Gala Kosok: “They came back, and they said, ‘Yes, you have MRSA, and the culture was MRSA.”

MRSA is an infection that can range from mild to life-threatening.

After all she has been through since landing in South Florida, Gala clearly has had enough bad news.

Gala Kosok: “I think I’ve had enough for a lifetime. Truly, I don’t think I need any more excitement .”

Which brings up the question: Is the hotel, the hospital or the rehab center she is now in responsible for her contracting MRSA, and do they have to pay for her treatment?


Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: “In theory? Maybe. In reality, it’s extremely unlikely, and here is why. Not only would you have to prove where you contracted the MRSA, you would have to prove they were negligent in allowing it to happen. To prove where you got it, you would have to have been tested at each place you stayed at, and to prove they were negligent, you would have to show they did not follow proper hygiene protocol. In other words, in Gala’s case, it’s impossible to do.”

There was a little good news for gala. She left rehab and went to her daughter’s, but believe it or not, she slipped, fell and is back in the hospital.

Gala Kosok: “I’ve been through a lot, but I’ve managed to survive somehow.”

As Gala told me when we first met, she will get through all this eventually.

Gala Kosok: “Now, I’d like to have a life back. I paint. I like to do paintings. I like to exhibit. I want to get back to painting again.”

If it weren’t for bad luck, Gala would have no luck at all.

Now, while Howard thinks it’s impossible to determine where Gala contracted MRSA, in some cases, you can prove where you got infected, which is why there are personal injury lawyers.

Bombing trying to win your battle? Feel trapped in a web that’s slowed you to a crawl? Let us paint a nice future for you, and leave you with an infectious smile.

Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
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