IT WAS supposed to be a happy occasion.
On Dec. 25, 2019, Christmas Day, Joselito Sabayog Jr. and common-law wife Maribel Entera of Sitio Casia, Barangay Bankal, Lapu-Lapu City were celebrating the birth of their second child.
Entera, 26, had gone into labor and Sabayog, 28, brought her to the Paanakan Center in the barangay around 7 a.m.
She had a normal delivery.
But when Entera started bleeding several minutes after, the midwives, who became alarmed, referred her to the ARC Hospital in Barangay Agus.
Sabayog decided to take her there because it wasn’t that far and he thought the doctors could attend to his wife immediately. His wife died at the hospital. He claimed the hospital staff didn’t attend to her right away because he was not able to give a down payment of P35,000.
The hospital denied this, saying that while it asked for a down payment, the staff immediately attended to Entera. Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, ARC Hospital administrator, said when Entera arrived at the hospital, she was bleeding profusely and had lost a lot of blood. The hospital doctor could not operate on her until she stabilized, she said.
Sabayog recalled that at the ARC Hospital, instead of seeing to his wife, hospital staff allegedly refused to admit her until he made a down payment of P35,000. He told them he had the amount but it was in a bag the couple had left behind at the birthing center. He had to ask relatives to get it and bring the money to the hospital so he could pay.
Then the hospital told him they didn’t have enough blood in her type for her operation.
Sabayog said he had to go to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) in Barangay Gun-ob to get five bags of blood.
“I told them the money was on its way. The medical staff in the emergency room (ER) had asked for it. Finally, they said they would operate on my wife, but the ER staff kept calling to ask if the payment had arrived. I told them to take action because my wife had lost a lot of blood. The doctor, though, told me that was normal. But then a few minutes later, my wife’s vitals shut down. They got rattled and injected something into her for her heart to start beating,” Sabayog said in Cebuano.
He said he would seek justice for the death of his wife as he blamed doctors in the hospital for not taking care of her.
“It was a clear case of discrimination. There was nobody else in the ER but Maribel. Maybe they thought we couldn’t afford. Then the hospital staff blamed the midwife who had accompanied us for not referring my wife to them immediately,” Sabayog said.
Denying there was inaction by the hospital, Loreche said it was only normal to ask for a down payment since the hospital is private. She said that when the couple arrived around 8:45 a.m., their doctors attended to the wife in the ER.
Loreche said they first had to stabilize Entera because she was bleeding profusely before they could operate on her. The patient’s blood pressure was 60/40 and she had lost a lot of blood.
The hospital was forced to call the PRC for five units of blood because it didn’t have enough for the transfusion.
Loreche said it took Sabayog a while to leave for the PRC.
“The doctor cannot operate on the patient who is not stable. Nobody, no sane doctor would operate on a patient whose blood pressure is going down and down. Also, the husband didn’t immediately go to fetch the blood. In fact, I cannot explain why there was a gap between the time when he was informed,” Loreche said in a mix of Tagalog and English.
Before that, she said, they gave him an option to transfer his wife to another hospital that had ample blood supply.
Loreche said the hospital management understood Sabayog’s situation and offered that he pick up his wife’s body even though he hadn’t settled the account yet. But Sabayog chose to pay their bill.
She said the hospital gave him a discount. Instead of P36,000, he was made to pay P31,000.
Under Republic Act 10932 or the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law, it is illegal for hospitals or clinics to refuse treatment to patients in emergency or serious cases.
“In emergency or serious cases, it shall be unlawful for any hospital or medical clinic to request, solicit, demand or accept any deposit or any other form of advance payment as prerequisite for administering basic emergency care, for confinement or medical treatment, or to refuse to administer medical treatment and support to any patient,” the law says.
Violators may be imprisoned for six months to two years and fined P100,000 to P300,000. (GCM, HBL / PJB)