Friday, January 19, 2018
News Roundup

Cruise line agrees to pay medical bills for passenger stranded in Turkey

CLEARWATER — Under pressure from media reports and blasted by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, Royal Caribbean cruise line has agreed to pay "any medical bills not covered by insurance" for an injured 89-year-old man abandoned by the cruise line in Turkey.

Dodge Melkonian of Clearwater, who bought medical insurance coverage through the cruise's travel insurance partner, On Call International, broke his hip Aug. 19, one day into a 12-day cruise. The cruise line left Melkonian and his wife, Jill, 65, at a rural Turkish hospital that had no intensive care unit.

Pain-ridden, Melkonian waited 24 hours before an insurance-issued ambulance with no doctor or nurse transferred him to an American hospital in Istanbul.

The insurance company also told the couple they would have to front the money for medical treatment.

Two travel agents with Elite Travel Management Group in Palm Harbor promoted the story to the news media and contacted several elected officials to try to help the Melkonians, their clients. They also contacted a Turkish tour guide to help the couple as a translator. He ended up donating his own blood so Melkonian could get hip surgery.

Royal Caribbean executive Dr. Arthur Diskin, who oversees global medical care for the cruise line, emailed Jill Melkonian on Tuesday and promised to pay any medical bills not covered by insurance.

"Our customarily strong support was not up to the standard you deserve," the email stated. "Although medical situations produce anxiety and stress, especially when they occur away from home, I regret that we weren't more successful in minimizing these inherent difficulties for you and Mr. Melkonian.

"The focus continues to be on Mr. Melkonian's and your well-being; arranging your travel home; helping you plan for follow-up care; and easing your logistical and financial concerns," the email continued.

Melkonian is feverish but is getting "lots of hugs" from nurses while he recovers from his surgery, Jill Melkonian said Monday.

Brittany Alana Davis can be reached at (727) 445-4155 or [email protected]

Comments
Autopsy: MLB star Roy Halladay died from blunt force trauma, drowning

Autopsy: MLB star Roy Halladay died from blunt force trauma, drowning

Former Major League Baseball pitcher Roy Halladay died from blunt force trauma with drowning as a contributing factor when he crashed his personal plane into the water off New Port Richey in November, according to an autopsy report released Friday.Ha...
Updated: 8 minutes ago
U.S. Attorney: Tampa woman uses soulfood restaurant as part of IRS scheme, steals thousands

U.S. Attorney: Tampa woman uses soulfood restaurant as part of IRS scheme, steals thousands

TAMPA — The owner of a soul and seafood restaurant is facing more than 10 years in federal prison for filing dozens of false tax returns and stealing thousands of dollars, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.Natalie Rene Panko, 57, owner of Ladie...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Learn how bus rapid transit (and rail) could work in Tampa Bay

Learn how bus rapid transit (and rail) could work in Tampa Bay

ST. PETERSBURG — The newest hope for transportation in the Tampa Bay area is a bus rapid transit system projected to cover the 41-miles separating St. Petersburg from Wesley Chapel and attract 4,500 new riders at a fraction of the cost of light rail....
Updated: 1 hour ago

Editorial: Confronting racial distrust in St. Petersburg, one conversation at a time

The St. Petersburg Police Department’s heavy presence in Midtown on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the community animosity it stirred have raised a familiar, troubling question: Can St. Petersburg’s racial divisions ever be reconciled?That big ideal ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Cuts hit top school leaders as Hillsborough sheds three six-figure salaries

Cuts hit top school leaders as Hillsborough sheds three six-figure salaries

TAMPA — Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins on Friday announced the first in a series of belt-tightening moves that include the elimination of three six-figure positions.Jobs now held by Wynne Tye and Larry Sykes will no longer exis...
Updated: 1 hour ago
That noise you hear from MacDill is low-flying A-10 Warthogs in training

That noise you hear from MacDill is low-flying A-10 Warthogs in training

TAMPA — If you hear loud noises coming from MacDill Air Force Base over the next few days, don’t be alarmed.It’s the sound of flying Hogs.A squadron of A-10C Warthogs, beloved by troops in the field for their ability to swoop low and slow and tear ap...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa man gets five life sentences for killing three with assault rifle

Tampa man gets five life sentences for killing three with assault rifle

TAMPA — One early morning three years ago, Angel Luis Perez burst through the back door of an east Tampa home and fired an AK-47 assault rifle into two people as they lie in their bed.A 3-year-old boy witnessed the murders.Perez, high on cocaine, gra...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Column: Keep children out of the adult prison system

Column: Keep children out of the adult prison system

The city of St. Petersburg is taking a stand for Florida children in hopes of changing our state’s affinity for prosecuting children in the adult criminal justice system — something we do more than any other state.In the 6th Judicial Circuit — coveri...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Proposed monument near St. Pete pier would honor Tony Jannus history-making flight

Proposed monument near St. Pete pier would honor Tony Jannus history-making flight

ST. PETERSBURG — Tony Jannus’s history-making flight in an early seaplane — simultaneously as ungainly and graceful as a pelican on the wing — is what Mayor Rick Kriseman calls an "under-told and under-appreciated" story, but a team of local history ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
In tree-loving Davis Islands, residents bring new life to where a grand oak fell

In tree-loving Davis Islands, residents bring new life to where a grand oak fell

TAMPA — The people of Davis Islands lost a dear friend to Hurricane Irma in September — a grand oak tree that had resided at the Suwanee Circle median for as long as many residents could remember.To commemorate Florida’s celebration of Arbor Day on F...
Updated: 2 hours ago