A senior executive from Aria Health, the owner of the Northeast Philadelphia hospital in Frankford where Joaquin Rivera died as he waited for emergency treatment, said today that staff did not follow a facility policy to check on patients periodically in the waiting room.
Chief operating officer Linde Finsrud Wilson, who was testifying at a city council hearing on Rivera's Nov. 28 death, said the hospital has since trained staff to keep better tabs on waiting patients.
Rivera, 63, complained of pain in his left side when he walked into the waiting room at Aria Health's Frankford campus - formerly called Frankford Hospital.
Wilson said an examination of a security video showed he died 11 minutes after arrival, and was first called by a triage nurse after 14 minutes. She said the state average for this wait time was 17 minutes.
Thomas R. Kline, a lawyer representing the Rivera family, criticized Wilson for citing that statistic. Someone with possible heart trouble, as Rivera had, should be seen right away, he said.
"You must prioritize patients," Kline said in a hallway outside the hearing. "When you go to the emergency room, it's not like going to a bakery."
The council does not have power to take action against the hospital; the hearing was intended for education purposes, said councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez.
The state Department of Health has issued citations against the hospital and the facility has until March 1 to implement a plan of correction - much of which is already in place, Aria officials said.