Photo made public by Juliana Supe, sister of the patient.

The Adventist Hospital Palawan (AHP) has denied an article published by a local news outlet which claimed that its doctors tried to convince the family of a patient, who died at the hospital of an undisclosed illness, to pass off the cause of death of their patient as COVID-19, in order to collect payment from the public health insurance company PhilHealth.

AHP chief operating officer Dr. Ian Kenneth Bermeo denied the allegation in an interview with Palawan News, adding that they are set to file a cyberlibel case against the news outlet Palawan Star.

Asked for details of the patient’s case, Bermeo declined to disclose the patient’s cause of death without the family’s consent, citing the data privacy law. He said however that the patient, which according to the Palawan Star article was brought to the AHP after an apparent abortion, did not disclose the full circumstances of her condition.

“Sana ang pasyente ay nagsasabi ng totoo. Kung magbibigay ang family ng authorization na ilabas namin ang mga medical records para malaman talaga natin kung ano ba talaga ang totoo,” Bermeo told Palawan News.

“Sa ngayong panahon ng pandemiya, dapat ang pasyente nagsasabi ng totoo. Ang pasyente, kapag hindi nagsasabi ng totoo, nagkakaproblema, in general. Dapat ang pasyente nagsabi ng totoo, kahit sa family, para hindi sila mag-away-away,” he added.

Citing the family of the victim as source, the Palawan Star article claimed that two doctors of the AHP offered to the patient’s father to report the death as a COVID-19 case so that the hospital will no longer charge the bills to the family but to PhilHealth.

Palawan News tried to reach the victim’s family to validate the accusation against AHP and its doctors but has yet to receive a reply. A source who claimed to be a family friend tried to connect Palawan News to the family to no avail.

On the part of AHP, Dr. Bermeo flatly denied the allegation that some AHP doctors offered to report the death as a COVID case and charge the hospitalization expenses to PhilHealth.

“It is a serious matter, we will take it to court,” Bermeo said.

“We categorically and vehemently deny the downright untruthful, malicious, and frivolous report posted on July 1, 2021, by Palawan Star in its Facebook account, regarding a pseudo-covid diagnosis “syndicate” in Adventist Hospital Palawan (AHP),” the AHP official statement issued late Friday stated.

Meanwhile, PhilHealth Palawan spokesperson Wilfred Hernandez, referring to the controversy, said it is not easy for any hospital to engage in such a modus as implied in the article.

“Hindi kasi basta-basta puwedeng i-claim ang COVID benefits. Our packages are only for those who acquire moderate to severe pneumonia as a result of COVID, at dapat may patunay pa ito,” he told Palawan News in a phone interview.

He also added that hospitals usually prefer to be paid upfront by the patient and reimburse it later rather than collect payment from PhilHealth, since remittance takes time.