SANTA MARIA, Calif. – Family members of a 74-year-old heart attack victim said Friday that a hospital’s focus on accommodating a flu-stricken Michael Jackson contributed to their loved one’s death.
The family of Manuela Gomez Ruiz, 74, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that she was relocated to a smaller hospital room so Jackson could have the larger room when he was admitted last week. Ruiz was being treated for a heart attack, the family said, and had two more heart attacks after being moved and died the same day.
Family members said they have hired an attorney and plan to sue the hospital and Jackson.
“Why does she have to be moved if he’s coming in for a stomach flu?” said Maria Elena Ortiz, the patient’s daughter. “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.”
Jackson publicist Raymone Bain blasted the ABC report in a statement in which the singer offered his condolences to the Ruiz family.
“It is outrageous that Michael Jackson’s name would be invoked into a situation of which he had no authority or control. He was a patient himself,” the statement said.
The hospital also offered condolences to the family but said patient privacy laws and hospital rules prevented comment specific to Ruiz’s care.