Slight pain leads to quick death at Metropolitan Hospital of Miami

A ventilator tube funnels oxygen into Julio Lorenzo's lungs. The 51-year-old air-conditioning repairman lies on a gurney inside the intensive care unit at Metropolitan Hospital of Miami, just south of Miami International Airport. It's mid-afternoon on April 30, three weeks after the lively, joke-cracking Cuban immigrant arrived complaining about a mild pain in his right testicle. The machine hisses and every four seconds, it belts out a loud sucking sound.

To his left, a boxy machine on a pole with five wheels at the bottom indicates his blood pressure is a very low 67/30. His olive-color eyelids are shut tight, and his stubbly face is impassive. His hands and feet are swollen from fluid retention.

Lorenzo's girlfriend, Mileidys Cordero, a petite, long-haired brunette with a few freckles on her cheeks, grips his unresponsive left hand. Her soft brown eyes well up with tears. Cordero is flanked by Lorenzo's 60-year-old brother Rafael, who doesn't say a word, and the repairman's 49-year-old close friend, Raul Urquiaga.

Julio Lorenzo brain-dead at Metropolitan Hospital.
Photo courtesy of the Lorenzo family
Julio Lorenzo brain-dead at Metropolitan Hospital.

Then, suddenly, Lorenzo's 26-year-old son, Andy, who's sitting in a chair nearby, buries his ruddy face in a white pillow. His father, he sobs, used it as a head support.

At 2:04 p.m., Lorenzo's lanky body spasms and his arms reach up for a few seconds. Then he goes limp. An auburn-haired nurse monitoring the machines rushes out and returns less than a minute later with the charge nurse, who breaks the news. "I'm sorry," she tells the family. "He's gone."

Lorenzo's life was abruptly and unexpectedly cut short, but the fight over his death is just beginning. His trip to the hospital is a surreal revelation of how patients are treated in one of Miami's oldest and most respected community hospitals. Physician Maray Rocher Gomez — who treated Lorenzo on April 8, according to his medical records — did not respond to two messages left on her cell phone. The number was provided by the hospital, which has no other number for her. Jaime Roncancio, another doctor listed on the Metropolitan documents, declined to comment, citing pending litigation.

"What happened to Mr. Lorenzo is a tragic situation," says Metropolitan's chief compliance officer, Carlos Garcia. "This matter is under investigation." He declined further comment.

Metropolitan has established roots in Miami-Dade County. It was founded in 1963 as Pan American Hospital by 13 Cuban exile doctors who planned to serve newly arrived immigrants from the island. It was the place where iconic exile leader Jorge Mas Canosa spent the last moments of his life in 1997.

But during the past decade, the hospital has been sued 33 times. Most complaints were dismissed, but nine plaintiffs received settlements. There have been three wrongful death lawsuits. One was dismissed, but on October 12, 2001, Pan American paid the family of patient Solange Delatour $2.8 million. (Court records of that case have disappeared.)

Before that, there was the well-publicized scandal in 2000, when then-Chief Executive Carolina Calderin and two Pan American doctors sued hospital founder Modesto Mora, his wife, then-Chief Financial Officer Roberto Tejidor, and other board members for defamation. Calderin claimed she had been removed in an attempt "to cover up... misdeeds." She asserted the defendants had been "looting" Pan American. Among other things, she said Mora's wife had a $60,000-per-year no-show job and that his sister lived rent-free in a home owned by the hospital. She also claimed Tejidor had falsified a $26,000 check request.

Pan American officials countered that Calderin had been fired after buying stock in a company negotiating a contract with the hospital. Tejidor was later criminally charged for harassing her, but those charges were dropped.

In 2001, the former chief executive's lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount.

The company suffered financial problems in the years that followed, abruptly closing 12 clinics, and then — in 2004 — filed for bankruptcy. Two years later, a Puerto Rican company bought the hospital for $34 million and renamed it.

Of course, Lorenzo had no idea about Metropolitan's troubled past when he went to the emergency room this past April 8. His buddy Urquiaga, who was in the hospital room during his death, says Lorenzo was an easygoing, charismatic man. Born the same year Fidel Castro took over, he was twice divorced. He had a son, Andy, with his first wife and a daughter, Arelys, with his second spouse. "He deeply loved his children," Urquiaga says. "They miss him terribly."

Lorenzo and Urquiaga fled Cuba together in 1994. They were intercepted at sea by the U.S. Coast Guard and transported to the Guantánamo naval base, where they stayed for close to a year.

In 1995, the pair made it to Miami, where Lorenzo studied and earned a license as an air-conditioning repairman. He lived in Hialeah with his older brother, Rafael. "We would have barbecues every weekend," Urquiaga recalls. "He was a regular guy who was always on call because of the nature of his job. He was always working."

In early 2008, Lorenzo's son, Andy, fled Cuba and joined his father in Hialeah. (His daughter remains on the island.) Later that year, Lorenzo ran into Cordero, who was an old flame from Cuba. They rekindled a romance and moved in together last year. Andy stayed in Hialeah while the couple found an efficiency off Flagler Street and 57th Avenue, about a five-minute drive from Metropolitan.

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23 comments
Antonio Divine
Antonio Divine

This Hospital should be closed. My mother died there on March 8th, 2012 due to the alleged me medical and hospital negligence. A Miami hospital was cited for deficiencies after the son of a woman who died at the facility filed a complaint against it. Maria Gonzalez, who was taken to Metropolitan Hospital of Miami for gastrointestinal bleeding, died with 24 hours after being admitted to the hospital. Her son, Antonio Gonzalez-Sanchez, who is also a nurse, described his mother’s condition. “And since she was taking Coumadin, which is to thin the blood, that caused her to, of course, bleed uncontrollably,” he said. Hospital records stated “there is no vitamin K available in the entire hospital.” Gonzalez-Sanchez filed a complaint with the Agency for Health Care Administration due to the absence of the vitamin, which causes blood to clot and is used for patients with serious bleedingOn April 27, AHCA sent a letter to the hospital administrator regarding findings of “Immediate Jeopardy” that stated “the conditions at your facility pose an immediate threat to the health and safety of patients at the following.” ACHA cited the hospital specifically in the areas of nursing services and quality assessment and improvement. In addition, pharmaceutical services were found to be out of compliance, and there was a deficiency in laboratory services. Maria Gonzalez’s report states a doctor wrote an order for Vitamin K at 12:50 p.m. Just over two hours later, the director of the emergency department called the pharmacy in search of Vitamin K and was told it was on national back order. At 3:42, the doctor ordered two units of fresh frozen plasma, which is used to stop bleeding, but they were never administered. “I lost my mom, I lost her companionship, I lost her friendship,” her son said. “We are going to lose more people this way.” AHCA also found the facility failed to administer blood products as ordered by physicians in five of 10 sampled patients. Metropolitan Hospital quickly made changes. A follow-up survey on May 16 said “the previously cited deficiencies were found corrected.” ACHA sent NBC 6 a written statement Tuesday that said the immediate jeopardy issues had been resolved. "The agency then conducted a revisit survey in May which indicated correction of the immediate jeopardy noncompliance cited during the complaint investigation. This was followed by a full federal survey in June which reflected that the hospital was in compliance with health regulations required for Medicare and Medicaid certification of an acute care hospital," the statement said. "Other pending noncompliance will be monitored by the agency to verify correction." Metropolitan Hospital of Miami did not return calls from NBC 6. .

Adianezgarcia
Adianezgarcia

What a case! I'm here with my father inlaw, the the ladys in the front desk are extremely irresponsible and unprofessional. We have been here an hour and the dr. Is no where near. Never again are we visiting this place, that seems to be everything but a decent hospital.

Dilaudid Abuse
Dilaudid Abuse

If something was life-threatening, I get in quick. No problem. If not, I might .... if the woman had been smart she would have left the hospital, called an ambulance, and returned and been automatically admitted without WAITING IN PAIN in the reception room. I've been in a ... (3rd times a charm). in my opinion (having had numerous death threatening illnesses and situations in my life) she killed herself when she decided to stay at the hospital she was at and continue to 'try' to get help.

john
john

Where you can go along with world trends on ~~~www.bagshoponline.com~~~ .There are so many fashion items you need and all the big brand you love. Like: Louis Vuitton Chanel Gucci Burberry Chloe Hermes Prada Fendi etc.

john
john

Where you can go along with world trends on ~~~www.bagshoponline.com~~~ .There are so many fashion items you need and all the big brand you love. Like: Louis Vuitton Chanel Gucci Burberry Chloe Hermes Prada Fendi etc.

jENNY
jENNY

that hospital i have never liked!! They should just put a sign if you admitted start planning the funeral....

Pilar
Pilar

So sorry for the family, but about the Pan American Hospital alot of people call it the KILLER HOSPITAL, you go in alive and come out dead...for many years it was happend ..now the only thing that has chage is the name but not the Dr. or how they take care of poeple, the family should really lawsuit big time and make them close the Hosp for real, My mom live very close to the hosp but will never...never let anybody take her there as so many things have happend.....people pls read and find out what are the best hops in Dade and Browrad before going there...again very sorry for the family and god be with all of them.

Eddi
Eddi

They should go after the gov't for ignoring the problems with that particular establishment. How many people have to die before they can shut them down for goood. protecting the public which is one of the responsibility of the gov't.

garry
garry

this sounded more like a erotic novel with different wording, stick to the story and facts rather than trying to invoke an emotional response.... your in the business of informing the public and not selling the latest harlequin novel..

JoeHandyman
JoeHandyman

No licensure. This keeps getting beter an better. If the community knows Metropolitan (Pan American) Hospital is dangerous, then why are more people not coming forward with more tales of woe and misery? It is our duty as human beings to stop this from continuing! No healthcare facility is perfect, but I would be fearful if I lived near this house of horrors. If you live in the general area of Metropolitan Hospital, or even if you live up to five miles away, make your family and the world well aware that you do not want to end up there in case of a medical emergency. Start by calling Assistant Chief Allen Joyce of the City of Miami Fire-Rescue Division of Emergency Management at (305) 416-5400. Then call Miami-Dade County's Fire Chief Herminio Lorenzo at (786) 331-5000. Allen is responsible for the city red trucks and Herminio for the county yellow-green trucks. Invite these gentlemen out for lunch and let them know that if you feel a little chest discomfort after some yard work in the sun, in no way do you want to end up in a place that has the highest mortality rate in Florida, maybe the whole USA. Re-route those rescue trucks to other hospitals (Coral Gables, South Miami, or Kendall). Tell them that despite the new ownership that you are aware that the same leaders (that ran things for the old owner, Dr. Mora) are still there today. Tell them you suspect the doctors and nurses who work there falsified educational documents to obtain Florida licensure. HEY, it is a business, and if no one goes there then they have to shut down. I checked their atrocious website and there is no compliance, critical issues, or hotline number. So I wonder if the parent company in Puerto Rico knows what is going on. Surely, the bean-counters track the money, but does the new owner know what we know?

RADY
RADY

rated pain level 3? Dilaudid ,impossible.week ago sacaron personal del hospital que trabajaba en la parte medica que no tenian la licencia medica correspondiente

JoeHandyman
JoeHandyman

After reading these comments I have to ask, why wasn’t the patient transferred to another healthcare facility (without violating EMTALA)? Perhaps he was not stable. Did anyone report this event to AHCA, JCAHO, or even the State Attorney? If there was wrongdoing, these agencies will find it. Also, this smells like an M.E. case; if not, insist on an autopsy. Get an attorney and subpoena all records. A competent law firm will examine the timeline and determine if appropriate interventions were carried out or not. It is important to examine what was done and at what time! The hospital’s lab, radiology department, and automated medication dispenser are NOT susceptible to the conspiracy of silence that affects the staff whenever there is litigation. Ah, sad but true. Just like in cases of police brutality, when a negligent or criminal event occurs in the medical field, the conspiracy of silence kicks in. No one will report seeing anything done out of protocol, and every intervention was executed correctly. But order entries in computers and test results cannot be falsified like in the movies. Too many machines are independent of each other. Shake it up! Don't let them get away with this!

neaj
neaj

i have visited this hospital and it is a wreck. It smells and is dirty, the staff and doctors are negligent. This article is sad but not a surprise. A hospital sued 33 times???? Seriously how can that be?

Ed
Ed

$15,000 bill for killing a patient? I think that's a bargain, I'm sure that Dr. Kevorkian would love this place. :)

caliz56
caliz56

very tragic indeed.clearly,dr roncancio is guilty of very gross medical negligence and should lose his license indefinitely.

Hector
Hector

I've been to the ER in this hospital, and let me tell you it looks like a hospital in a third world country. The sheets all still have stains on them, the needles and tubing using for an IV are tossed on the floor. The staff rarely speaks english. Put it like this i diagnosed myself faster with my Pathology book then the "doctor" who attended me. I seriously think this hospital needs a surprise inspection from the state.

chris
chris

CORRUPT QUACK COOOOWANNO DOCTORS ABOUND AND SHOULD BE DEPORTED ASAP! DEFEAT AMNESTY! HOOOOOORAY FOR ARIZONA LAWS!

PS BUT I WANT TO KNOW

Who put up the sign on 836 which read NO LATINOS NO TACOS!

Ileana
Ileana

It's a shame that these doctor's suspected this person of "faking it" and did nothing. Whether they suspected him of "faking it" or not, it was there duty to rule it out to be on the safe side. If they confirmed their suspicions, then they could have taken other actions. But to do nothing without confirming their suspicions is criminal and caused a healthy person his life unnecessarily. They should lose their medical license!!!!!

miamigal
miamigal

So, they kill you through neglect then ask for payment? Wow. Just Wow.

They should have been talking settlement.

DRap
DRap

Dilaudid as a painkiller??? That's major crap and not even all on its own?? That doc has probably killed quite a few people; no doc in his/her right mind would prescribe that, ALONG WITH other meds for something they can't even find. To the family -- do all that you can to tank that hospital. If they're ok with one iota of this, they're a menace to society as a whole.

Antonio Divine
Antonio Divine

A Miami hospital was cited for deficiencies after the son of a woman who died at the facility filed a complaint against it. Maria Gonzalez, who was taken to Metropolitan Hospital of Miami for gastrointestinal bleeding, died with 24 hours after being admitted to the hospital. Her son, Antonio Gonzalez-Sanchez, who is also a nurse, described his mother’s condition. “And since she was taking Coumadin, which is to thin the blood, that caused her to, of course, bleed uncontrollably,” he said. Hospital records stated “there is no vitamin K available in the entire hospital.” Gonzalez-Sanchez filed a complaint with the Agency for Health Care Administration due to the absence of the vitamin, which causes blood to clot and is used for patients with serious bleedingOn April 27, AHCA sent a letter to the hospital administrator regarding findings of “Immediate Jeopardy” that stated “the conditions at your facility pose an immediate threat to the health and safety of patients at the following.” ACHA cited the hospital specifically in the areas of nursing services and quality assessment and improvement. In addition, pharmaceutical services were found to be out of compliance, and there was a deficiency in laboratory services. Maria Gonzalez’s report states a doctor wrote an order for Vitamin K at 12:50 p.m. Just over two hours later, the director of the emergency department called the pharmacy in search of Vitamin K and was told it was on national back order. At 3:42, the doctor ordered two units of fresh frozen plasma, which is used to stop bleeding, but they were never administered. “I lost my mom, I lost her companionship, I lost her friendship,” her son said. “We are going to lose more people this way.” AHCA also found the facility failed to administer blood products as ordered by physicians in five of 10 sampled patients. Metropolitan Hospital quickly made changes. A follow-up survey on May 16 said “the previously cited deficiencies were found corrected.” ACHA sent NBC 6 a written statement Tuesday that said the immediate jeopardy issues had been resolved. "The agency then conducted a revisit survey in May which indicated correction of the immediate jeopardy noncompliance cited during the complaint investigation. This was followed by a full federal survey in June which reflected that the hospital was in compliance with health regulations required for Medicare and Medicaid certification of an acute care hospital," the statement said. "Other pending noncompliance will be monitored by the agency to verify correction." Metropolitan Hospital of Miami did not return calls from NBC 6.

Antonio Divine
Antonio Divine

A Miami hospital was cited for deficiencies after the son of a woman who died at the facility filed a complaint against it. Maria Gonzalez, who was taken to Metropolitan Hospital of Miami for gastrointestinal bleeding, died with 24 hours after being admitted to the hospital. Her son, Antonio Gonzalez-Sanchez, who is also a nurse, described his mother’s condition. “And since she was taking Coumadin, which is to thin the blood, that caused her to, of course, bleed uncontrollably,” he said. Hospital records stated “there is no vitamin K available in the entire hospital.” Gonzalez-Sanchez filed a complaint with the Agency for Health Care Administration due to the absence of the vitamin, which causes blood to clot and is used for patients with serious bleedingOn April 27, AHCA sent a letter to the hospital administrator regarding findings of “Immediate Jeopardy” that stated “the conditions at your facility pose an immediate threat to the health and safety of patients at the following.” ACHA cited the hospital specifically in the areas of nursing services and quality assessment and improvement. In addition, pharmaceutical services were found to be out of compliance, and there was a deficiency in laboratory services. Maria Gonzalez’s report states a doctor wrote an order for Vitamin K at 12:50 p.m. Just over two hours later, the director of the emergency department called the pharmacy in search of Vitamin K and was told it was on national back order. At 3:42, the doctor ordered two units of fresh frozen plasma, which is used to stop bleeding, but they were never administered. “I lost my mom, I lost her companionship, I lost her friendship,” her son said. “We are going to lose more people this way.” AHCA also found the facility failed to administer blood products as ordered by physicians in five of 10 sampled patients. Metropolitan Hospital quickly made changes. A follow-up survey on May 16 said “the previously cited deficiencies were found corrected.” ACHA sent NBC 6 a written statement Tuesday that said the immediate jeopardy issues had been resolved. "The agency then conducted a revisit survey in May which indicated correction of the immediate jeopardy noncompliance cited during the complaint investigation. This was followed by a full federal survey in June which reflected that the hospital was in compliance with health regulations required for Medicare and Medicaid certification of an acute care hospital," the statement said. "Other pending noncompliance will be monitored by the agency to verify correction." Metropolitan Hospital of Miami did not return calls from NBC 6.

Bebe19620
Bebe19620

Well, Erotic if you do not understand what descriptive writing is.

 
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