Inquiry Clears Hospitals' Action on Crash Victim

Times Staff Writer

University of California investigators have exonerated medical centers at UC Irvine, UCLA and UC San Diego for refusing to admit a fatally injured Westminster man who lacked health insurance.

Relatives of Juan Jimenez Collado, who suffered massive injuries in a Memorial Day weekend traffic accident, say he would have lived if he had been been transferred from Pioneers Memorial Hospital in Brawley to a better-equipped facility in Orange, San Diego or Los Angeles counties.

They also say the 43-year-old ex-boxer was denied admission to nine urban hospitals--including the UC facilities--because he was a Medi-Cal patient.

But in a letter released Wednesday, UC Vice President Cornelius L. Hopper said Jimenez could not be transferred to a UC hospital because the hospitals were full and because staff at Pioneers Memorial initiated the transfer request incorrectly.

At one point, Hopper wrote, no physician at Pioneers was available to request the transfer. On another occasion, on June 3, Pioneers' staff members asked to transfer Jimenez to UCSD Medical Center but then changed their minds, saying that "a transfer was no longer being requested."

Also, Hopper noted, although two beds came open June 8 in UCI Medical Center's surgical intensive care unit, "they were committed to patients already undergoing scheduled surgery and were filled by these patients by 3 p.m."

Jimenez died at Pioneers on June 18 after suffering multiple fractures, shock, kidney failure and gangrene.

Hopper's Aug. 3 letter was released Wednesday by Assemblyman Steve Peace (D-San Diego) who had worked to get Jimenez transferred and then, disturbed by the circumstances surrounding his death, had asked UC, state licensing and Medi-Cal officials to conduct separate investigations of the situation.

The state Department of Health Services concluded Aug. 14 that Jimenez was too sick and unstable to be moved and that the nine hospitals did nothing wrong.

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