Mother cries foul over ‘cruel hospital’

Jodesz Gavilan
'I cannot bring back my daughter's life back but at least I can do something to what happened to her even to just lessen the pain that we are going through,' says the bereaved mother
Photos from Tutz Salarda-Chan's Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – A parent’s agony after losing a child cannot be expressed in just one social media post. But for a mother who knows that something could have prevented her daughter’s death, it could at least “lessen the pain.” 

In a Facebook post dated August 12, Tutz Salarda-Chan shared her ordeal in a private hospital in Butuan which, she claimed, led to the death of her 10-year-old daughter, Jannary “Yanna” Chan, on July 16.

“I cannot bring back my daughter’s life back but at least I can do something to what happened to her even to just lessen the pain that we are going through,” Salarda-Chan said of her decision to publicize the incident. 

Hospital nightmare

Salarda-Chan said Yanna had congenital heart disease since she was 6 months old. She was also diagnosed early this year with diabetes and a kidney problem.

Yanna was confined at the San Francisco Doctor’s hospital in Agusan del Sur on July 13, but her parents decided to transfer her to the Butuan Doctors Hospital in Agusan del Norte. The child then was in “critical condition” and the other hospital had “complete medical equipment” that they believed would provide her better medical treatment.

They arrived at the Butuan Doctors Hospital after an hour in an ambulance with two nurses from the San Francisco Doctor’s Hospital, and with the proper medical certificate and referral document.

Salarda-Chan alleged that the hospital staff at the Butuan Doctors Hospital refused to admit Yanna because the parents could not pay the full admission deposit of P30,000 ($684*) for the intensive care unit (ICU).

Their cash was only around P8,000 ($182) to P10,000 ($228), she said, and they promised to provide the full amount in the morning. It was 8 pm already, and they could not make bank transactions.

“Nakiusap po kami nang husto na tanggapin ang bata kasi sobrang emergency po at hindi na banking hours to transfer cash kasi gabi na. ‘Ilang oras na lang naman at umaga na, Miss, at mabubuo na namin ang kulang,'” Salarda-Chan recalled telling the hospital staff.

(We pleaded with the hospital staff to admit the child because it was an emergency and the banks were closed since it was night time. I told them, “In just a few hours, it will be morning already, Miss, and we can pay the entire amount.”)

The hospital staff reportedly brushed them aside and told them: “Malayo sa P30,000 yang hawak mong cash! Wala ditong charity, private hospital kami. Ano ba trabaho mo? Saan ba mangagaling ang pambayad nyo dito?” 

(The money you have is far from P30,000. We don’t run a charity; this is a private hospital. What’s your job? Where will you get the money?) 

Salarda-Chan also recalled the hospital staff as saying: “Hindi yan emergency! Ang emergency ‘yung mga nasagasaan sa daan. Eh kayo galing na kayo sa isang hospital dapat bago kayo bumiyahe itinawag nyo muna sa amin ‘yan! Dapat tumawag muna kayo bago niyo sinugod iyan dito para alam ‘nyo babayaran niyo!”  

(That’s not an emergency! An emergency is someone who got ran over on the road. You already came from another hospital, so you should have called us before coming here! You should’ve called so you would know how much you need to pay!)

Salarda-Chan said their previous doctor already called the hospital, but the clerk reportedly maintained that they should have called the admissions office instead.

The family decided to go to the Davao Hospital, which was much further away, but  Yanna had cardiac arrest and died on the way.

What the law says

Republic Act 8344, passed in 1997, prohibits and penalizes individuals who demand deposits or advanced payments before admitting and giving immediate medical care to emergency cases. 

Any hospital official, practitioner, or employee proven to have violated the law could face imprisonment of 6 months to two years. If it is hospital policy to require deposits, the director of the hospital could face 4 to 6 years in jail.

The administration of the Butuan Doctors Hospital told Rappler that they will be releasing a statement as soon as they conclude their own investigation of the matter.  – Rappler.com 

*$1 = P44

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Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.