Council to hold hearings on hospital waiting room death

City Councilwomen Maria Quinones-Sanchez and Blondell Reynolds Brown are planning to hold hearings to determine whether hospital protocols were ignored at Aria Health's Frankford Campus on Saturday, when Joaquin Rivera died in the waiting area after complaining of pain in his arm and abdomen.

Quinones-Sanchez said she is going to discuss the controversial case with Aria-Health officials on Monday. The council hearings will be held in January, Reynolds Brown said.

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Police said Rivera, 63, arrived at the hospital about 10:45 p.m. Saturday, explained his symptoms to a nurse and was told to take a seat. He lost consciousness in his seat, and was then preyed upon by three thugs who stole his watch. Police charged one man, Richard Alten, with the theft. A witness told a security guard about the theft and Rivera's unconscious state. Rivera, a married father of three and longtime counselor at Olney High School, was pronounced dead shortly after midnight Sunday.

Quinones-Sanchez said the hearings will likely focus on Aria Health's procedures and protocols for dealing with patients who exhibit signs of heart trouble. "You had someone who within minutes was unconscious," she said. "Based on witness accounts, he had defecated on himself, yet a nurse and a security guard walked by him eight times without doing anything."

Reynolds Brown said hospital surveillance footage that shows Rivera was largely ignored by Aria staffers for more than an hour "makes it real clear there is something wrong with this picture."

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