PORTLAND, Ore. — Police officers trying to get help after a man crashed his car outside a Portland hospital were told they had to call an ambulance, authorities say, but doctors assert they were acting on the information provided to them.
Portland police spokeswoman Kelli Sheffer says Officers Robert Quick and Angela Luty were at Portland Adventist Medical Center to follow up on an unrelated injury crash when someone flagged them down.
Quick and Luty were told someone had crashed their car into a utility pole outside the hospital and the driver was unresponsive, police say. While one officer tried CPR to revive the man, the other ran into the emergency room to ask for help.
Hospital workers told the officer to call an ambulance and that they would not leave the building to treat him, Sheffer says.
The radio call between the officers at the scene and dispatchers was released Thursday.
Officer: "Hospital says they won't come out. We need to contact AMR first." Dispatcher: "They're en route. Code 3." Officer: "We've started CPR." Dispatcher: "Copy. Started CPR."
The officers continued to provide CPR to the 61-year-old man while they waited for paramedics' help, police say. The ambulance arrived six minutes later and paramedics took the man into the emergency room, which was 100 yards away.
Police say the officers were stunned.
"I think that would be a bit shocking for anyone when you're in that frame of mind and all the sudden, you're not able to get the help that you believe this person needs," Sheffer says.
Hospital staff says they followed protocol Police say the man, identified as Birgilio Marin-Fuentes, was still alive when paramedics took him inside the hospital, but he eventually died. An autopsy showed Marin-Fuentes died of natural causes related to heart disease, according to a medical examiner.
The wreck was first reported at 12:47 a.m., but surveillance video suggests Marin-Fuentes crashed in the parking garage about 20 minutes before anyone noticed.
An emergency room physician defended the hospital's actions and says they followed protocol based on the information they had.
"The message that our staff got was that a crash had occurred in our parking structure and that a potential trauma patient had been discovered," says Dr. Kelli Westcott, an Adventist physician.
She says they called 911 because ambulances are equipped with life-saving devices to pull someone from a wrecked car.
"That includes calling 911 because especially in the case of a trauma patient, they often need to be transported to the emergency department with specialized equipment: a back board, a cervical collar, things that trauma patients need," Westcott says.
Wescott also says they immediately notified security officers, who are trained in CPR, and a nursing supervisor and a charge nurse responded to the parking lot.
Judy Leach, a spokeswoman for Portland Adventist Medical Center, says the hospital doesn't have a policy against responding to emergencies in the parking lot.
"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. We have done so many times in the past year alone," Leach says.
But Marin-Fuentes' family members still have questions.
"Sincerely, with pain in my heart, I feel what the hospital did to him is wrong. They denied him medical attention. To me that is not just for him or for other people," says Faustino Luis Garcia, Marin-Fuentes' brother-in-law, also through a translator.
Congressman calls for investigation U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer is calling for an independent investigation of the incident.
"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.
"If the police statements are correct, this incident defies common sense and it may well defy federal law," he wrote in a statement.