PORTLAND – A man suffering a heart attack who crashed his car within sight of Portland Adventist Hospital was forced to wait for an ambulance because of hospital policy, Portland police said, and now Congressman Earl Blumenauer wants a federal probe into the incident.
Birgilio Marin-Fuentes, 61, died shortly afterward, from cardiac complications.
The man crashed about 125 feet from the hospital entrance. Officers who were already on scene rushed to the man's aid, and one went in to the hospital to request help.
AUDIO: Listen to 9-1-1 calls
"The officer was told it's hospital policy that they don't treat people outside their hospital and they need to call an ambulance," said Sgt. Pete Simpson with the Portland Police.
While one officer performed CPR, another officer called for an ambulance. According to police, six minutes later an ambulance arrived and medics wheeled the man on a gurney the short distance into the hospital.
Radio dispatch calls and audio confirm the timeline provided to KGW by Portland police.
TIMELINE: Man dies seeking care
"Hospital said they won't come out. We need to contact AMR first," the officer is heard telling dispatch on the radio call.
"No policy is going to prevent a Portland Police officer from helping someone in need," said Sgt. Simpson.
Adventist spokeswoman Judy Lindsay Leach gave KGW a different account of what happened. She said the charge nurse directed a paramedic to go immediately to the scene, then dispatched first responders. According the hospital spokesperson, when the call came in, they immediately put their security first response team out to the parking lot and by the time a nurse got out there, paramedics were already on scene.
The announcement came several hours later that Marin-Fuentes had died.
The man's wife, Claudia, was devastated by the news.
"We are very torn up, destroyed...we have a very strong pain in our hearts," she said through a translator.
Adventist Medical Center released a statement Thursday afternoon that read, in part, "Our hearts and prayers go out to the family and friends who lost a loved one today."
"We do NOT have a policy against responding to emergencies in our parking lot. In fact, we always call 9-1-1 and send our own staff into these situations whether they are gun shot wounds, heart attacks, or any other medical emergency. We have done so many times in the past year alone."
News of the incident reached Congressman Earl Blumenauer’s office in Washington D.C. Thursday. He immediately called for an independent federal investigation.
Blumenauer said he wants to know what went wrong and why the man wasn’t helped sooner.
“An account like this obviously set off red lights for me and made me keenly interested in getting to the bottom of it and preliminary news reports were frankly very unsettling," the congressman said.
Blumenauer has called for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services to conduct the investigation. And in the meantime, he said his office would contact every hospital in Oregon to “make sure they understand their legal and moral obligations.”