Lenny Tristia Tambun & Ezra Sihite
Three state-owned hospitals on Tuesday denied accusations that they had refused to provide treatment to a premature baby who died on Saturday after suffering from a respiratory problem.
“All three hospitals did not reject the patient, they also did not ask for a down payment from the patient’s family. This is based on the explanation from the medical directors of the three hospitals,” Health Ministry spokeswoman Murti Utami said on Tuesday, referring to Cipto Mangunkusumo, Harapan Kita and Fatmawati hospitals.
Murti said that according to Harapan Kita’s explanation, the family of one-week-old Dera Nur Anggraini arrived at the hospital on Friday with a reference letter from Zahira Hospital in South Jakarta, where she was born. However, a nurse at Harapan Kita said all 10 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit rooms were occupied.
On Saturday, the family went to Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital without the baby, where the hospital also said it only had 10 NICU rooms, all of which were occupied. The hospital also said a backlog of patients were being treated in emergency rooms while they waited for a vacant bed in an NICU room to open up.
“The same thing happened at Fatmawati Hospital, which only has three NICU rooms. All rooms were occupied and there was a long queue,” Murti said.
She said according to standard operating procedure, if a patient required admission to the NICU unit but all rooms were occupied, the patient would be treated at the emergency ward while waiting for an available NICU room.
Health Minister Nafsiah Mboi on Tuesday denied that the government had treated Dera unfairly because her family was poor. Dera’s father on Monday said private hospitals were not an option for the family because of the hefty down payment required.
“Private hospitals asked for a down payment of Rp 12 million ($1,240) to Rp 15 million,” he said.
The baby’s death comes less than a week after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s two-month-old grandson successfully underwent surgery for digestive problems in Jakarta, shining a spotlight on the capital’s hospital system.
Dera’s family said on Monday that they had tried to bring their baby to the three state-owned hospitals, as well as Pertamina Central Hospital (RSPP) in South Jakarta and Budi Asih Hospital in East Jakarta, among other places.
A total of eight hospitals, however, rejected Dera, saying they either didn’t have the medical equipment for the surgery or their rooms were fully occupied.
Jakarta Health Office head Dien Emawati on Tuesday said the city’s hospitals had only 143 NICU beds in total.