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Police Frustrated Over Oregon Hospital's Response To Nearby Crash

PORTLAND, Ore. - Police say they're frustrated by a hospital's response when officers sought help for an ailing man who crashed his car in the hospital parking garage.

The man died.

Officers who found Birgilio Marin-Fuentes unconscious in his car began cardiopulmonary resuscitation early Thursday while other officers ran about 125 feet to the Portland Adventist Medical Center emergency room to seek help.

They were told to call 911 for an ambulance, Sgt. Pete Simpson said.

"Hospital said they won't come out," Officer Andrew Hearst radioed to dispatch. "We need to contact AMR (American Medical Response) first."

Hospital officials said they were told there had been a car crash and followed their protocol - directing police to call an ambulance that would have the equipment to remove someone from a car.

"It's certainly very frustrating for the officers who are not medical professionals in a hospital parking lot, to be told they have to call for an ambulance to help this man. The officers didn't stand there and argue, they continued CPR," Simpson told The Oregonian. "But they were in disbelief."

Hospital officials said they also sent out a charge nurse, nursing supervisor and two security staff members who had a mobile defibrillator, as well as an ambulance paramedic who was at the hospital.

"We do not have a policy against responding to emergencies in our parking lot," hospital spokeswoman Judy Leach said in a statement. "In fact, we always call 911 and send our own staff into these situations whether they are gunshot wounds, heart attacks, or any other medical emergency."

Hospital officials say surveillance video indicates the crash occurred about 20 minutes before anyone noticed.

An ambulance arrived at 12:53 a.m., six minutes after police were flagged down by a passer-by. The 61-year-old man was wheeled on a gurney into the ER by 12:58 a.m. He was pronounced dead at 1:22 a.m.

The Oregon state medical examiner said Marin-Fuentes died from heart disease.

The man's wife, Claudia Luis Garcia, told the newspaper her husband couldn't stop coughing, couldn't sleep and decided to drive himself to the nearest hospital. She offered to go with him but he said there was no need.

"If I would have went with him, he would've been alive," she said as her 12-year-old daughter acted as interpreter. "They left him to die."

U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer said Thursday he was "deeply disturbed" by media reports of Marin-Fuentes' death. He called for a federal investigation into whether the hospital violated any laws.

"If these reports are true, it is not just heartbreaking, but incomprehensible that a hospital fully capable of treating this medical emergency left police officers with no medical equipment to tend to a patient," the Oregon Democrat said in a statement, noting that federal law requires all Medicare-participating hospitals with emergency departments to treat any critically ill patients on their premises, including parking lots.

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Information from: The Oregonian, http://www.oregonlive.com



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