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Hospital bill stuns slain student's parents

On Saturday, 10 days after Scott Hawkins was beaten to death inside his dormitory at California State University, Sacramento, his parents got a letter in the mail.

It contained a bill from the UC Davis Medical Center for $29,186.50 along with a form letter addressed "Dear Patient" that implied they were indigent and stated that the hospital no longer could provide them services.

"UC Davis can no longer provide follow-up care or any other non-emergency care to you," it read. "Please go to a County clinic for all non-emergency care or to get a referral to another doctor."

For Gerald and Elizabeth Hawkins, it was just too much to bear.

"It was just devastating and insulting," Gerald Hawkins said Monday. "It's just hard to grasp for words. My wife and I were near collapse."

The couple said the mailing tore at the wounds opened by the loss of their 23-year-old son.

"We were just very upset on Saturday, it just all spiraled downward," Elizabeth Hawkins said. "We called a crisis counselor and he came over and spent several hours over here."

As a means of coping, the family made a copy of the letter, took it into the backyard of their Santa Clara home and burned it.

Monday morning, they picked up the phone to straighten things out.

Gerald Hawkins said he first called the UC Davis billing department, but was so distraught he lost his voice and handed the phone to his wife.

"It was just one more unpleasant process," she said. "I was crying through the whole thing."

The parents also sent a note to the billing department noting that their son was not indigent and that he carried full medical coverage through a Kaiser Permanente plan.

Contacted by The Bee on Monday, Carole Gan, a hospital spokeswoman, called the mailing "a mistake."

She said she was limited in what information she could provide about the medical care provided to Scott Hawkins, but said he arrived at the emergency room at 3:11 p.m. and was pronounced dead five minutes later.

"The trauma team did everything they could," Gan said.

She said the bill accurately reflects the services provided but that the hospital regrets that the bill and letter were mailed to the family. She said the matter would be resolved through Hawkins' insurance company.

The suspect in Hawkins' beating death, 19-year-old Quran Jones, remained hospitalized at UC Davis on Monday in fair condition.

Officers responding to reports of a disturbance in a CSUS dormitory on the afternoon of Oct. 21 shot Jones after he allegedly lunged at them with a knife.

Jones is expected to be booked on charges of murder and attempted murder when he recovers.

Authorities have not said what they believe might have sparked the attack. Hawkins and Jones shared a suite in the dorm, and a detailed timeline compiled by campus authorities indicates Hawkins may have walked in on Jones several minutes into his rampage. Police say Jones beat Hawkins to death using the baseball bat of another suite mate.

Hawkins, who had Asperger's syndrome, a mild form of autism, had been attending CSUS since August, when his parents drove up to Sacramento with him and helped him move into his dorm. His parents describe him as a gentle, quiet son with a love of learning and fascination for history.

Gerald Hawkins said he was shaken by the description of services that, according to the billing, the hospital provided his son.

He said he was told by CSUS President Alexander Gonzales that his son died inside the dormitory suite.

But the billing indicates that his son lived longer than initially thought, Hawkins said. In addition to the emergency room services, the bill seeks payment for a "patient monitor," trauma rescue services, intubation and cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Gloria Moraga, a spokeswoman for CSUS, said she could not comment on the case because it is under investigation.

"The conversation the president and the family had was a private conversation and we cannot share it with you," she added.

The hospital bill is dated Thursday. Gerald Hawkins said he was confident his insurance company would handle the matter.

But that did nothing to allay how disturbing he finds it that the hospital sent the mailing at all.

"I can't believe this can happen in a civilized country," Hawkins said.

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