Garcias seek answers to ‘doubtful circumstances’ surrounding brothers’ deaths at a private hospital
CEBU CITY –– One of Cebu’s biggest cooperatives has suspended the accreditation of a private hospital in the health care program for its members due to “very disturbing” complaints from the relatives of deceased members.
The move also came after two siblings of the prominent Garcia family, which runs the Cebu CFI Community Cooperative, died at Chong Hua Hospital six days apart early this month.
The Cebu CFI Community Cooperative, in a post on Facebook, said they would review and investigate the prominent hospital and some of its doctors.
“Pending the results of the investigation and in the best interest of its members, Cebu CFI Coop is suspending the accreditation of Chong Hua Hospital in the health care program for its members.
Accordingly, medical and hospital bills from this hospital will not be covered under the program,” the cooperative said in an advisory on Thursday.
The cooperative also identified the two doctors it disqualified from certifying medical and hospital procedures of its members.
The Inquirer, however, opted not to identify them since they have yet to respond to the issue.
The Cebu CFI Community Cooperative, which has 130,000 members, is headed by former Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) chairman Winston Garcia.
In a press conference last Thursday, Winston’s siblings Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia and Rep. Pablo John Garcia expressed dismay over how doctors in the hospital handled their two brothers Nelson and Marlon.
Nelson, 61, a former mayor of Dumanjug town, south Cebu, died on September 1, while Marlon, 58, the mayor of Barili town, passed away on September 6.
“Yes, they (Marlon and Nelson) both tested positive for COVID-19 as did I around the same period. But they had recovered. Their doctors themselves, in the death certificates, would show it. We are raising questions. We are not making conclusions,” said Pablo John.
Unlike his two brothers, Pablo John chose to undergo home-isolation while taking medication after learning he acquired the virus, instead of being admitted in a hospital.
“Those words kept coming back, haunting me because that’s exactly what happened to my brothers. They died not from COVID or pneumonia but because of the bacteria that they got from the hospital,” the congressman said.
Based on his brothers’ death certificates, Pablo John said Nelson died of “cardiopulmonary arrest secondary to probable massive pulmonary embolism” while Marlon succumbed to “septic shock secondary catheter-related bloodstream infection, ventilator-associated pneumonia.”
In a press statement, the management of Chong Hua Hospital said they were willing to talk with the Garcias and “provide any answers that may help them in their search for closure.”
“We assure the entire community that all our patients—past, present, and future—were, are, and will always be provided with the best care under our supervision,” the statement read.
“The team of medical experts in our hospital provides only the best possible care for its patients. The judgment of the medical team is backed by their extensive training and experience as doctors and medical practitioners, based on verified data,” it added.
“Their actions are consistent with globally-accepted and clinically-established procedures applicable to the patient’s diagnoses. In particular, the two attending physicians of the Garcia brothers are reputable and outstanding doctors, and are specialists in their fields.”
Chong Hua Hospital, which was established in 1909, has 660 hospital beds catering not just patients from Cebu City but also other areas in the Visayas and Mindanao.
It boasts as the home of the region’s top specialists and subspecialists and is the referral hospital of choice for physicians and patients seeking the highest level of quality health care.
But Governor Garcia said they want answers to questions regarding the doubtful circumstances surrounding her brothers’ deaths.
Despite having recovered from COVID-19, she said doctors at Chong Hua refused to discharge Marlon and Nelson and instead transferred her brothers to the intensive care unit (ICU) where they might have been infected.
The governor said she also tried to give her brothers a set of medication for people with COVID-19 symptoms but the doctors did not allow it.
Marlon, she said, also wanted to leave the hospital to defray their expenses and was even willing to sign a waiver so he could just go home but the doctors refused.
“Please tell your mom that I am willing to sign any waiver. I just want to go home. I am okay already. I am more worried about the bills piling up,” said Governor Garcia quoting the text message of Marlon to the Governor’s daughter and Liloan town Mayor Christina.
Marlon’s hospital bills reached P5.2 million while Nelson’s was P3 million.
Pablo John said the family will consult experts to look into the medical interventions done to his brothers.
Asked if the family is planning to file cases against the hospital and the doctors who handled his two brothers, Pablo John replied: “Too early in the day to be talking about that. Depends on what the experts will say if only to give justice to my brothers.”
“At this point, the family is grieving and the family is asking questions. But we would like to be aware that there are these kinds of treatments and interventions that could cause the death of a patient who has already recovered from COVID-19,” he said.
In a succeeding FB post on September 18, the Cebu CFI Cooperative explained the decision to suspend the accreditation of Chong Hua Hospital. It said that the suspension is a prerogative of the cooperative and was done as a precautionary measure to “alleged abusive practices, protocols, and procedures” as relayed by relatives of deceased members.
“A number of hospital patients died under similar circumstances, which relatives blamed the insistence of its doctors to adopt the highly expensive but controversial medical protocols and procedures adopted by the hospital for pre-COVID and post-COVID patients,” it said.
“All these patients were initially confined as COVID patients, were declared freed of and cured of COVID, but they all subsequently followed similar patterns of health deterioration as a direct result of these highly expensive but, from time to time, proven to be fatal in the treatment of post-COVID patients.”
“In this connection, we would like to emphasize we are not passing any judgment yet on the hospital and these doctors as to their malfeasance or misfeasance. We hope and pray they can acquit themselves in the investigation that will surely be called in the future.”
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