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Video shows Oregon hospital acted quickly in emergency

By Dan Cook

PORTLAND, Oregon (Reuters) - Surveillance video shows that a hospital criticized for a slow response acted correctly in quickly sending a paramedic to help a man who crashed his car and died in the hospital parking garage while trying to get to the emergency room.

The video was played at a press conference called by officials at Portland Adventist Medical Center on Tuesday to defend their handling of the heart patient.

City police who first rushed to the man's aid had suggested emergency room staff wasted precious time by telling them to call 911 for an ambulance rather than sending medical help directly to the scene a short distance from the ER entrance.

But hospital officials exhibited surveillance video footage showing that the ER's charge nurse did immediately send a paramedic on foot to follow police out to the parking lot.

The video also confirmed that the patient, Birgilio Marin-Fuentes, 61, was wheeled straight from the garage back to the ER on a gurney by paramedics, though an ambulance also was sent as a backup.

Adventist President and Chief Executive Tom Russell said a review of the video and interviews with those involved showed hospital employees followed proper protocol.

"Everyone who responded to the incident that morning did everything that they could have and exactly what they should have to save this man's life," he said.

While there may have been a misunderstanding between hospital personnel and police about sending an ambulance to assist, the correct procedures were followed, he said.

Marin-Fuentes, who already had gone unnoticed in the garage for some 20 minutes after his crash before a passerby spotted him, was pronounced dead a short time later of heart disease.

According to hospital officials, 12 minutes elapsed between the time police were alerted to his presence in the parking lot and the time he arrived in the ER.

Police Chief Mike Reese, who also attended the news conference, said the hospital may have been misjudged in the immediate aftermath of the incident.

"It seems clear the hospital was preparing a response to aid Mr. Fuentes," he said.

(Edited by Steve Gorman and Greg McCune)