By Hannah L. Torregoza
Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday sought an inquiry into a hospital in Cebu that allegedly asked for a deposit before treating a wounded cop.
Hontiveros, principal author of the Enhanced Anti-Hospital Deposit Law, urged the Department of Health (DOH) to investigate the incident involving PO3 David Naraja Jr. who sought the Chong Hua Hospital’s medical service after he was allegedly shot by a gun-for-hire during a police operation last October 16.
Hontiveros who is in Cebu to attend a Youth Conference on Family Planning where she is one of the main speakers, expressed concern regarding a report the hospital allegedly asked for a deposit before treating Naraja.
Chong Hua Hospital denied the accusation saying that the family of Naraja merely “misinterpreted” the hospital’s partial billing amount quoted by its staff as a demand for deposit.
Naraja was later transferred to the Cebu Doctors’ Hospital. The hospital management said to have covered his hospital expenses.
It was reported that Chong Hua Hospital already issued a written apology to Naraja and Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 but Espino said that the hospital’s letter of apology would be referred to Camp Crame’s legal office for resolution.
“This is no way to treat our selfless police personnel who are risking life and limb to keep us all safe. Whether this incident was intentional or not, this must not be tolerated. There should be zero tolerance for cases such as this,” Hontiveros said.
The senator, vice chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, said she has already requested a dialogue with Chief Supt. Jose Mario Espino of the PRO 7 and the DOH Regional Office.
She also said her office will also talk to the private hospital to get its side.
“Through these dialogues, I hope to get to the bottom of this issue and for the appropriate authorities, especially the DOH, to find ways of being more proactive in responding to reports such as this, and properly implementing the Enhanced Anti-Hospital Deposit Law,” she said.
The law, she said, imposes stricter penalties on hospitals that would demand any deposit or other forms of advance payment in exchange for medical treatment of an emergency patient.
She pointed out penalties now include imprisonment of up to four to six years and fines ranging from P100,000 to P1,000,000. The measure also gives authority to the DOH to revoke the license of a health facility after three repeated violations.
“The policy of asking for any deposit as a prerequisite for confinement or medical treatment of a patient must become a thing of the past. It has no space in any democratic society,” she stressed. (With a report from Juan Carlo de Vela)
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