Friday, February 25, 2005

Pauvre Michael Jackson, Part II


Accommodating a flu-stricken Michael Jackson contributed to the death of an elderly heart patient, according to members of the woman's family who on Friday threatened to sue the pop star and the hospital.

The family of Manuela Gomez Ruiz, 74, told ABC's "Good Morning America" that the grandmother was relocated from Marian Medical Center's primary trauma room to a smaller room so that Jackson could have the larger room. Ruiz was being treated Feb. 15 for a heart attack, the family said, and died the same day after two more heart attacks following her move.

Members of Ruiz's family said they have hired an attorney and plan to sue the hospital and Jackson.

Maria Elena Ortiz said she objected to her mother being moved after Jackson was admitted.

"Why does she have to be moved if he's coming in for a stomach flu?" Ortiz told ABC. "I said, 'My mother just had a heart attack and I think it's more critical than a stomach flu.' They didn't say anything."

The hospital offered condolences to Ruiz's family, but in a statement said patient privacy laws and hospital rules prevented more specific comment.

"We are confident, however, that our patients have and continue to receive high-quality, compassionate and timely care," the statement said.

Jackson publicist Raymone Bain blasted the "Good Morning America" report.

"It is outrageous that Michael Jackson's name would be invoked into a situation of which he had no authority or control," Bain said. "He was a patient himself."

In the statement, the singer also offered condolences to Ruiz's family.
(Reported by AP)