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Story by Larry Fitzpatrick - The Oregon Herald
Published on Friday February 11, 2011 - 12:48 PM
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A man suffering a heart attack who crashed his car within sight of Portland Adventist Hospital was forced to wait for an ambulance because of hospital policy, Portland police said.

Birgilio Marin-Fuentes, 61, died shortly afterwards from cardiac complications. He had driven to Portland Adventist Medical Center shortly after midnight Thursday, unable to sleep or stop coughing. He then crashed his car into a pillar wall under an "emergency parking only" sign about one hundred or so feet from the emergency room entrance.

Officers who were on scene rushed to help him, and one officer went inside the hospital to request help.

"The officer was told it is hospital policy that they don't treat people outside their hospital and they need to call an ambulance," said Sgt. Pete Simpson with the Portland Police.

While one officer performed CPR, another officer called for an ambulance. According to police, six minutes later an ambulance arrived and medics picked the man up and wheeled him via a gurney the short distance inside the hospital.

"Hospital said they won't come out. We need to contact AMR first," the officer is heard telling dispatch on the radio call.

"No policy is going to prevent a Portland Police officer from helping someone in need," said police Sgt. Simpson.

Adventist representative Judy Lindsay Leach said the charge nurse directed a paramedic to go immediately to the scene, and then dispatched first responders. According the hospital spokesperson, when the call came in, they immediately implemented a security first response team to the parking lot and by the time, a nurse arrived, paramedics were already on the scene.

However, it was too late. Marin-Fuentes had died.

Birgilio Marin-Fuentes's wife, Claudia, was devastated and said, "We are very torn up, destroyed. We have a very strong pain in our hearts."

A statement from Adventist Medical Center read "Our hearts and prayers go out to the family and friends who lost a loved one today."

"We do NOT have a policy against responding to emergencies in our parking lot. In fact, we always call 9-1-1 and send our own staff into these situations whether they are gunshot wounds, heart attacks, or any other medical emergency. We have done so many times in the past year alone."