By Mario Casayuran
Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go has asked for a Senate probe on the alleged refusal of some hospitals to administer emergency care to critically ill patients amid the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.
Go made the move after Mary Jane Alpide, a pregnant woman, died during labor at Rizal Medical Center after being reportedly turned down earlier by four medical facilities, allegedly including Dr. Fabella Memorial Hospital.
“Papaimbestigahan ko ito bilang chairperson ng Committee on Health sa Senado. Ipapatawag natin ang mga ospital na ito sa tamang panahon and those responsible for these unlawful acts should and will be held accountable,’’ he said. (As chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, I will summon those responsible for these unlawful acts and ensure that they will be held accountable.)
Go added that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Department of Health (DOH) are ready to conduct investigations on the hospitals that allegedly refused to provide treatment to patients.)
“Nasa sitwasyon tayo na hirap na hirap talaga lahat lalo na ang ating health facilities. Kulang ang PPE (personal protective equipment) at mga kagamitan sa mga ospital at lampas kapasidad ang karamihan kaya hirap na tumanggap ng dagdag na pasyente,’’ he explained. (We are in a very difficult situation, especially our health facilities due to insufficient PPE and hospital equipment that make it hard for some hospitals to accept additional patients.)
“Pero hindi ito rason para hindi magmalasakit at umaksyon ang ospital para agarang matulungan ang may sakit. Kailangan nating gawin ang tama at lahat ng ating makakaya para mailigtas ang buhay ng kapwa nating Pilipino na nangangailangan ng tulong medical,’’ he said. (However, this is not a reason for a hospital not to act and give immediate help to critically ill patients. We need to do the right thing and everything to save the lives of our fellow Filipinos who need medical attention.)
“Inuulit ko po, hindi maaaring tanggihan ng mga ospital ang sinumang pasyenteng lalapit sa kanila. Labag po ito sa batas (I am reiterating that hospitals cannot refuse patients who come to them for help. This is a violation of the law),” Go said.
In its official statement, Dr. Fabella Memorial Hospital said that it has “designated a separate and exclusive building to care and manage Obstetrics, Gynecologic, and Pediatric patients suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 infections.”
However, the hospital also mentioned that “the time to expand and complete the facility may have taken awhile considering the renovation and procurement of needed equipment.”
Go gave a stern warning to hospitals allegedly denying treatment to critically ill patients after a patient died after reportedly being turned away by as many as six hospitals in Cabanatuan City in Nueva Ecija, while another patient was also allegedly turned away by nine hospitals in Caloocan City without receiving any emergency treatment.
He cited Republic Act (RA) 10932, the “Anti-Hospital Deposit Law,” which declares it unlawful for a hospital or medical clinic to refuse to administer medical treatment and support to any patient.
“Ayon sa batas, kung hindi sapat ang kapasidad ng ospital, maaaring i-transfer ang pasyente sa ospital na may kakayahang magbigay ng tamang lunas (The law says, if a hospital lacks the capacity, it is allowed to transfer the patient to another hospital that has the capability to provide the needed medical care and attention),” Go said.
However, the law provides that “such transfer shall be done only after necessary emergency treatment and support have been administered to stabilize the patient and after it has been established that such transfer entails less risks than the patient’s continued confinement.”
Go also warned that violators of the law would be dealt with and penalized.
‘’Maaaring makulong ng 4 to 6 years at pagbayarin ng P500,000 to P1,000,000 ang mga opisyal ng ospital na involved sa ganitong gawain,’’ he added. (Hospital officials involved in this kind of illegal act may face four to six years of imprisonment and a fine of P500,000 to P1,000,000).