City Council yesterday voted unanimously to hold hearings in the case of Joaquin Rivera, whose death last month while he waited for emergency medical attention at Aria Health-Frankford Campus has sparked a debate about the health care available to people in modest neighborhoods.
Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, who sponsored the resolution, said Council still had questions about Rivera's death.
She said Council would look at best practices in emergency rooms, and whether those practices were followed on the night of Nov. 28, when Rivera arrived. He informed staff that he had a pain in his side, and took a seat in the waiting room. He died 11 minutes later, but hospital staff did not discover he was dead until nearly 50 minutes later, when someone reported that three homeless drug addicts had taken the 63-year-old musician's watch.
The hearing has not been scheduled but is expected to be held next month.
Councilwoman Maria Quiñones Sánchez, a friend of Rivera's whose district includes the hospital, said officials from Aria Health had insisted that proper protocols were followed.
But the fact that Rivera lay dead in his chair while a triage nurse took in other patients is hard to justify, especially after watching security video, Sánchez said.
"It is going to be difficult for any report to counter what is very strong visually," she said.
Aria Health officials have declined to talk and have issued a statement: "We take this situation very seriously, and we are conducting a complete examination of our policies and procedures in partnership with the Pennsylvania State Department of Health as it relates to this incident.
"As part of this process, we are taking a number of proactive steps to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again."
Aria Health said its officials "will fully participate in any future proceedings, including those called for in the [Council] resolution."