A 31-YEAR-OLD mother who suffered a miscarriage won’t go back to Eversley Childs Sanitarium and Hospital in Mandaue City after being left “unattended” in the emergency room.
The ordeal of Genelie Jayme, a Consolacion town resident, was a black eye in the government hospital, which is undergoing internal changes in management.
Her aunt Marcelina Batac, 47, told Cebu Daily News that the married woman, who was two months pregnant, was brought to the ER weak and bleeding in the the vagina past 8 p.m. last week.
Batac said the family was dismayed when the doctor on duty told them to buy a pregnancy kit outside the hospital and administer it themselves to verify if she was pregnant.
After several hours, the patient was told she would need the services of an obstetrics-gynecologist, which the hospital lacked, and would have to spend about P15,000.
The family ended up going to a private birthing center in Mandaue City. They paid P8,000.
Jayme, a resident of purok 5, barangay Nangka, Consolacion, lost her second child during the miscarriage.
Dr. Emily Apas, the ER doctor, declined to be interviewed when Cebu Daily News made phone calls and left messages for her at the hospital on Wednesday.
CDN spoke yesterday to Dr. Pythagoras Zerna, a surgeon at Eversley, who explained that Apas was a general practitioner and just following hospital protocol in leaving the case to a specialist.
Zerna said the patient may have “misinterpreted” the referral when the doctor explained that the family had to see a private doctor since a miscarriage is considered a “critical” case.
“It’s the same system in all hospitals, private or public. Emergency cases have to be assessed. If a case is beyond a doctor’s expertise, he can’t take risks with someone’s life.”
The family of Jayme said they suspect the lukewarm reception in the ER was due to the fact they only had P3,000 cash for a down payment.
“Just because we’re poor, they think we don’t deserve to be given attention. But this is supposed to be a public hospital,” said Jayme’s aunt.
“If we only had money, the hospital wouldn’t have treated us that way.”
Eversley is a 127-bed-capacity secondary government hospital under the Department of Health.
DOH Regional Director Susana Madarieta, in a separate interview, said she has not received any complaint about this case of a bleeding mother. She asked the parties to bring the matter up to her office so she could have it investigated.
“If there is no complaint made, we would have no basis for investigation,” she said.
Jayme, the patient, was already pale when her parents and aunt accompanied her to the ER.
They said the doctor told them a pregnancy test had to be done first. Since it was an emergency, Batac said she thought this would be done right away with a bill to follow.
Thirty minutes later, the family was told to buy the test paraphernalia outside since the hospital pharmacy was already closed. The patient’s father, Samuel Bentulan, went to the next town of Consolacion to find a pharmacy.
At that moment, the mother, who was in a wheelchair, complained that she was heavily bleeding in her genitals. With the help of a nurse, she was placed on a bed.
When her father returned with the pregnant test kit, he showed it to the doctor.
“Sige, i-test nana ninyo (Go ahead, give her the test),” the doctor was quoted as saying.
The woman’s aunt was shocked.
“We had to act like hospital staff and administer the test and change her diaper,” said the aunt while the doctor was making an improvised air provider (bulsetas) and nurses sat near the information booth.
The ER had only one other patient around being treated for hypertension at the time.
Jayme’s family said they were made to wait for a couple of hours only to find out later that the hospital wouldn’t be attending to them if they didn’t make a P15,000 down payment for an OB-GYN specialist.
The aunt said she and the pregnant woman’s parents begged Dr. Apas to treat the miscarriage victim and that they would pay later, but the doctor was reluctant.
At that point, the family decided to leave.
“As we left, a nurse chased us and insisted that we had to sign a waiver. We just signed to avoid further problems,” Batac said.
They brought the patient, still bleeding, to a private birthing center in barangay Basak. They paid P8,000 for a vacuum aspiration or “D and C” (dilation and curettage) procedure.
“The center didn’t force use to make a down payment but they accepted our P2,000,” she said.
Dr. Zerna, an Eversley hospital surgeon, said the complaint may have stemmed from a misunderstanding.
“In a way, they complained not be cause they weren’t attended to but because of money matters,” said Zerna.
He said a patient’s relatives usually want a doctor to attend to them immediately, part of the anxiety of an emergency.
Zerna said a patient brought to the ER will have a nurse get the vital signs while the doctor in charge determines if the patient is a critical case or not.
But once a doctor assesses that a critical condition such as miscarriage or vaginal bleeding is beyond the doctor’s specialty, the patient has to be referred to a specialist.
Eversley Childs Sanitarium and Hospital doesn’t have an obstetrics-gynecologist on staff. The hospital has to call in a private doctor.
By law, a hospital is required to treat emergency or critical cases, without requiring a down payment for the patient.
Zerna said the misunderstanding arose when it was explained to the patient that if she wanted to be treated, a specialist had to be called in.
“Sometimes the way it is explained and the way it is understood is different,” he said.
“You may think the hospital is asking for money. No, it’s just being explained to them that under the system, a private physician has to be called in and this would be an expense for them.”
If life is at stake, Zerna said it’s the relative’s prerogative to stay in the hospital and wait for a specialist or transfer to another hospital.
He said its impossible that the nurses or doctor failed to attend to the patient’s needs.
CDN talked to Fernando Eltanal, the hospital’s supervising administrative officer, who said the government hospital’s procedure is to treat patients in emergency cases even if they can’t pay at the moment.
He said the hospital has a new management and was correcting practices of the former management.
As a secondary hospital, services are limited. Patients have to be sent to more equipped hospital when needed, he said.
CDN tried calling Dr. Apas in the hospital 8 a.m. Wednesday, and was told to call back after she finished her rounds. A few minutes later, CDN was told she had already left. The next day, hospital staff said the doctor was not around. They were reluctant to say how to contact her.