SENATOR Risa Hontiveros, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health, vowed on Monday to investigate possible violations to the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law after a woman, who was refused admission by two hospitals, then gave birth inside a taxicab in Quezon City.
Hontiveros said the incident would be on the agenda at the second hearing of her bill that aims to strengthen Republic Act No. 8344, a law that prohibits hospitals from asking for deposits first before treating patients with emergency needs.
Initial investigation by Hontiveros’ office showed a certain Aira Arellano was turned away by a public hospital in Caloocan City last Jan. 11 after its staff allegedly assessed she went into labor prematurely. They said they had no incubator for the baby.
Arellano proceeded to the next nearest hospital but eventually gave birth inside a taxicab.
Rescuers and media on the scene then brought her to a private hospital in Fairview, Quezon City.
However, the attending staff allegedly only cut the umbilical cord of the infant and said Arellano could not afford their fees, prompting them to transfer to the East Avenue Medical Center.
The EAMC staff that admitted Arellano and her infant, however, said she had a regular childbirth.
Based on these accounts, Hontiveros said it was worth investigating if the hospital in Fairview, Quezon City violated the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law.
The senator also said Arellano and her child were twice victimized.
“She was a victim of a private hospital that refused to admit her because she couldn’t afford the deposit demanded of her, and a public hospital that lacked facilities. We cannot tolerate hospitals denying mothers and their children health services in their time of urgent need. Where will our people go if they can’t get medical help from either public and private hospitals?” Hontiveros asked.
Hontiveros said she would mobilize the resources of her committee to get to the bottom of this matter.
She will also coordinate with the Department of Health to get a list of the facilities at public hospitals and determine legislative and budgetary interventions that can improve health services.
“No life should be unnecessarily put at risk, no person should be denied adequate and quality medical care just because they are poor and our government-run hospitals cannot adequately respond to their emergency medical needs. We have heard this unfortunate story so many times already. It’s time we put an end to it,” Hontiveros added.
Hontiveros filed Senate Bill No. 216, or “The Amendments to the Anti-Hospital Deposit Act,” that seeks heavier penalties on hospitals that continue to demand any deposit or other form of advance payment, as a prerequisite for admission or medical treatment of an emergency patient.