City councilor blames hospital for aunt’s death, seeks probe

A PRIVATE hospital in Cebu City is now in hot water after Councilor Mary Ann de los Santos asked the Department of Health (DOH) to investigate its alleged refusal to cater to an emergency.

De los Santos became emotional during the City Council’s regular session Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022, when she narrated how her 91-year-old aunt died after Perpetual Succour Hospital declined to accept her aunt in its emergency room due to understaffing.

The councilor said her aunt was rushed to the hospital last Sept. 23 due to difficulty in breathing but was not able to disembark from the ambulance after being rejected by the hospital.

“Unfortunately, for the flimsiest and the most outrageous of reasons, she was declined. The reason that was given was that the hospital has no staff to cater to her emergency that day,” said de los Santos.

De los Santos said they decided to transfer her aunt to another hospital, but the latter was declared dead on arrival.

“It cannot be denied that the denial of Perpetual Succour in their emergency room is the cause of the death of my aunt. It is squarely in the hands of Perpetual Sucuor Hospital for failure to accept her in her emergency,” de los Santos said.

The councilor lamented that the hospital failed to assess the patient and outrightly dismissed her aunt by saying, “We have no staff.”

De los Santos raised the question why Perpetual Succour Hospital, a level 3 hospital, cannot provide emergency service without informing the community.

“Is it not the duty of the hospital leadership to inform the public in certain services, especially if the emergency room is not available, and provide alternative information on where the patient can go?” de los Santos asked.

She said if her aunt, who had the capacity to foot her hospital bill, was not given emergency treatment, how much more the ordinary patient, especially those coming from the marginalized sector.

SunStar Cebu reached out to the management of Perpetual Succour Hospital Thursday, Sept. 29, but a hospital official, who requested anonymity, said an official statement had yet to be released.

The official said the hospital’s management is still gathering all information about the matter.

De los Santos moved to note in her privilege speech that the DOH and Private Hospital Associations of the Philippines should conduct an investigation on the hospital in accordance with Republic Act 8344 or the act penalizing the refusal of hospitals and medical clinics to administer appropriate initial medical treatment for support in emergency or serious cases.

The findings of the investigation should be submitted to the Cebu City Council within three weeks, she added.

The councilor also moved to encourage Congress to create legislative measures that will improve the salaries of medical workers as a way to address understaffing in hospitals.

The Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH 7) said it had not yet received a letter request and information from Councilor de los Santos on the matter.

DOH 7 Director Jaime Bernadas told SunStar Cebu Thursday, that the agency is open to acting on it should they receive a letter from the city councilor.

Bernadas said they could not speculate on the sanctions the hospital will face if proven that it had committed lapses during the incident.

The regional director advised hospitals to be professional and practice measures that are within their licenses, including the observance of standard operating procedures and the operations manual.