2 doctors in Cebu face raps for death of Gov. Garcia’s brother

Published May 8, 2021, 5:20 PM

by Calvin Cordova 

CEBU CITY – Two doctors from a private hospital here will face trial for the death of Barili, Cebu Mayor Marlon Garcia last year.

The Office of the Cebu City Prosecutor found probable cause to indict Dr. Elfleda A. Hernandez, an infectious disease specialist, and Dr. Yvonne Bettina E. Montejo, a pulmonologist, for reckless imprudence resulting in homicide.

Mayor Garcia’s wife Jima filed the charges against the two doctors who who attended to the late local chief executive at the Chong Hua Hospital (CHH).

The brother of Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia was admitted to CHH last Aug. 5 where he was later found to be COVID-19 positive.

Mayor Garcia died at the hospital last Sept. 6. His brother Nelson, the former mayor of Dumanjug, Cebu, died last Sept. 1 at the same hospital where he also tested positive for COVID-19.

The Garcias went on to file charges against the two doctors for the deaths of their brothers.

In the case of Mayor Marlon, Gov. Garcia said the late mayor has already recovered from COVID-19 and had signified to be discharged but the doctors disallowed his request to leave the hospital.

The Garcias asserted that the doctors’ refusal to discharge led to Marlon’s deterioration and demise.

Based on his death certificate, the Barili mayor’s immediate cause of death was septic shock secondary to catheter-related bloodstream infection, ventilator-associated pneumonia, and an underlying cause of COVID-confirmed pneumonia (recovered).

Following the deaths of the Garcia brothers, the governor and her bother, Winston, sought the opinion of Dr. Ravi Durvasula, an infectious disease expert from Yale University in the Unites States of America.

“Based upon reasonable degree of medical certainty, it is my opinion that Mr. Garcia’s care at Chong Hua Hospital did not meet acceptable standards. Though initial treatment of COVID-19 pneumonia and vascular complications was appropriate and protocol-driven, subsequent care deviated from acceptable standards of medical documentation, laboratory investigations, and infection control,” Durvasula said in his report.

Jima revealed that the hospital billed them P5,132, 787 which was later reduced to P3,307,372.38 although they did not ask for a discount.

In their counter-affidavits, the respondents denied any wrongdoing “or the commission of an act which would be deemed negligent on their part.”

The two doctors alleged that the death of Marlon was due in part to his exiting comorbidities.

In her March 1 resolution, Assistant City Prosecutor Verna Merelos pointed out that “denial is the weakest form of defense.”

Merelos added that the opinion of Durvasula on the existence of questionable standards of care is “sufficient to establish the element of breach of duty.”       

 “The undersigned also finds that the respondents’ defenses of denial adherence to the best standard of care of the patient and the limitation set by the family on the treatment of Mr. Garcia are all evidentiary in nature and should be ventilated in a full blown trial,” Merelos said.