Palawan Medical Mission Group Multipurpose Cooperative file photo.

A former religious organization cleric has blamed the management of a cooperative hospital in Puerto Princesa City for the death of a church leader whom it allegedly refused intensive care for failing to make an initial payment of P30,000.

Thomas Jasper Candole, a former senior pastor of the Capitol Hills Christian Church, Inc. (CHCCI), took to Facebook on August 15 his accusation that the Palawan Medical Mission Group Multipurpose Cooperative (PMMGMC or Coop Hospital) denied Pastor Joel Claverias “immediate attention due to a suspected stroke” on August 14.

Claverias, 61, was a pastor in the International Fundamental Baptist Church (IFBC) in Barangay Sta. Lourdes.

“The Puerto Princesa Coop Hospital refused to admit Pastor Claverias to their ICU (intensive care unit) until they have in their hands the P30,000 they want as downpayment. His condition needed immediate attention due to a suspected stroke, but they won’t budge despite assurances from the family,” Candole, who is Claverias’ friend, said in his social media account.

The wake for Pastor Joel Claverias’ remains is at the International Fundamental Baptist Church (IFBC) in Barangay Sta. Lourdes. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Claverias Montano)

Candole said he had to be transferred by his family to another hospital. However, it does not have any available space in the ICU to accommodate and provide Claverias critical care.

He said Claverias was brought back to the Coop Hospital, but the management only accepted him as a patient in the ICU when a downpayment was produced by his daughter.

It was too late, however, because Claverias had already passed away. He died due to brain hemorrhage.

“It was only after the pastor’s daughter has scrounged from friends, handed to them the downpayment, that they attended to him. It was then that the brain hemorrhage was diagnosed, but it was all too late,” he said in his post.

Family mourns death of beloved pastor

In an interview with Jennifer Claverias Montano on Saturday, she said her family rushed her father to the Coop Hospital from Sta. Lourdes after he showed signs of stroke early in the morning of August 14.

When her father was denied at the Coop Hospital due to their family’s failure to make the P30,000 downpayment, they transferred him to the Adventist Hospital Palawan (AHP).

They had to go back to the Coop Hospital, however, because there was no available ICU bed in the AHP.

“Noong hindi kami nakabigay ng downpayment, dinala na namin si papa sa Adventist kasi doon tumatanggap sila kahit walang initial payment. Pero pagdating namin doon, walang available na space sa ICU kaya ibinalik na naman namin siya sa Coop Hospital,” she said.

She said Claverias was only attended to by emergency medical personnel at the Cooperative Hospital when she was able to produce P15,000 which is half of the daily P30,000 cost of ICU admission.

Montano said her father passed away at around 7 p.m. on the same day because of brain hemorrhage due to stroke.

“Masakit sa amin ang nangyari kay papa kasi baka may nagawa sana kung natingnan siya ng mas mabilis,” she said.

Montano said her family has decided not to seek legal action against the Cooperative Hospital, but they hope that the Department of Health (DOH) would look into what happened to prevent the same incident from being experienced by other patients.

She said they are not pursuing any case because they are facing other problems and still has more than P22,000 left to pay in the Cooperative Hospital out of the P48,000 bill her father had accumulated in the ICU.

“Nag-decide kami na hindi na mag-file ng kaso kasi sa totoo lang, ang daming problema ng pamilya namin. Ang father-in-law ko ay nasa Adventist din at naka-confine. Ewan ko, hindi pa malinaw ang isip namin ngayon kasi naghahanap pa din kami ng ibabayad sa naiwan namin na bill na mahigit P22,000 pa sa Coop. Ang nabayad ko lang kasi ay P25,000 pa lang,” she said.

Montano said her father had served as a pastor in the IFBC in Sta. Lourdes for six years, living there with her mother.

Cooperative Hospital investigates the incident

Dr. Paul Castillo, medical director of the PMMGMC, told Palawan News in a brief phone interview on Friday that they have heard about Candole’s post and are currently having it investigated.

He said an inquiry is already ongoing to verify Candole’s social media post.

“The hospital deeply regrets what happened and the management is still investigating the circumstances surrounding the events that transpired,” Dr. Castillo also said in a text message.

Anti-Hospital Deposit Law

Dr. Mario Baquilod, regional director of the Department of Health (DOH) MIMAROPA, when informed about the matter on Saturday, said that refusal to accept patients who need “appropriate initial medical treatment and support in emergency or serious cases” is prohibited under the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law or Republic Act (RA) 10932 amending Batas Pambansa 702.

He said no hospital, public or private, should demand deposits and advance payments before accepting patients.

“Paiimbestigahan natin kasi unang-una, hindi dapat mag-de-deny ang ano mang hospital because walang deposit ang patient. Hopefully, I will have some information soon,” he said.

Baquilod said he will send DOH Palawan chief Dr. Peter Curameng to look into Claverias’ case, including his regional office’s licensing and permitting division.

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has been with Palawan News since January 2019. She is its managing editor, overseeing and coordinating day-to-day editorial activities. Her writing interests are politics and governance, health, defense, investigative journalism, civic journalism, and the environment.