Oregon Man Dies Outside of ER After Delay in Treatment

PHOTO: 61-year-old Portland, Ore. man died in the parking lot of a hospital
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A Portland, Ore., man died in the parking lot of a hospital Thursday after confusion between hospital personnel and police led to a delay in the man's receiving treatment, officials said.

Birgilio Marin-Fuentes, 61, was feeling ill and drove himself to Portland Adventist Medical Center after midnight Thursday.

He told his wife, "I have a lot of coughs so I'm going to go to the hospital and I'll be back later," Claudia Luis Garcia told ABC Affiliate KATU through her daughter, acting as a Spanish interpreter.

Marin-Fuentes crashed his car into a light pole in the hospital's parking lot under a sign that said "Emergency Vehicles Only." He was 125 feet from the entrance to the emergency room.

Four Portland police officers in the area tended to Marin-Fuentes after a bystander alerted them to the crash, officials said.

Two officers began administering CPR to the unconscious man while two other police officers went into the emergency room to alert hospital staff about the accident. Police said that they were told by ER staff that they needed to call 911 for an ambulance.

"You know, there's a good reason for it, I'm sure," Portland Police Lt. Kellie Sheffer told KATU. "Does it help in the heat of the moment when there's high emotion and high frustration? No, it's difficult."

Police officer Andrew Hearst radioed dispatch, saying, "Hospital says they won't come out, we need to contact AMR [American Medical Response] first."

The officers continued performing CPR until an ambulance arrived. Marin-Fuentes was put on a gurney and wheeled 125 feet into the ER more than 10 minutes after police first responded to the unconscious man, officials said.

At 1:22 a.m., 35 minutes after a Portland police officer first radioed dispatch, Marin-Fuentes was pronounced dead from a heart attack.

Officials from the Portland Adventist Medical Center said that the police misunderstood the hospital's policy.

"We do not have a policy against responding to emergencies in our parking lot," hospital spokeswoman Judy Leach said in a statement. "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."

Man Dies 125 Feet From ER Entrance After Delay in Treatment

Hospital officials said they were told that there was a automobile accident and their typical policy in responding to car accidents is to first call 911 to send an ambulance.

"We advised the officer immediately to call 911 because EMS have the mobile equipment to respond to a car accident," Leach said in the statement.

Leach said that along with calling 911, hospital staff immediately began mobilizing and sent a paramedic and two first responders to the scene right away.

"When the security staff arrived, the police were already doing CPR," she said. "Then the nursing supervisor ran out to the garage. She saw that the ambulance and fire department had arrived and were actively preparing the patient for transport to our emergency room."

Police refuted those claims Thursday.

"If a nursing supervisor came out there, that person never made themselves known," Sgt. Pete Simpson told the Oregonian newspaper.

Police and hospital officials met today, Leach said.

"We had a very productive meeting with the police department, which allowed us to go over what actually did take place and it was very productive," Leach said.

Leach called the incident "unfortunate."

"It's just so unfortunate that this patient chose to drive himself when they were having chest pains," she said. "We're wanting to make sure the public knows if you're experiencing chest pains or discomfort, it's always the right thing to call 911 first."

The hospital's position that police misunderstood is little comfort to Marin-Fuentes' family. His brother-in-law called him a "good father figure" to his daughter. Marin-Fuentes and his wife worked detailing cars.

"If he would have seen somebody in the street [asking] for food and stuff, he would have helped them, so why didn't anyone help him," his wife said.

ABC Affiliate KATU and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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