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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 29, 1998


Today, my Administration informed the President of Ravenswood Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, that the hospital will lose its Medicare funding on June 21, 1998, unless the facility takes steps to ensure that the events that led to the tragic death of 15-year-old Christopher Sercye are never repeated.

On May 16, Christopher died of gunshot wounds just 35 feet from Ravenswood, where friends had brought the young man for help. There is simply no excuse for this. No one should be left untreated just footsteps from a hospital entrance. No health care professional should turn the other way, and no supervisor should direct an employee not to intervene in a medical emergency.

That is why the Health Care Financing Administration delivered a letter today advising Ravenswood Hospital that unless it provides credible evidence that its policies have been restructured, it will lose all Medicare funding next month. This Administration stands ready to take the same strong action against any facility that does not assist in a medical emergency.

I am also extremely pleased that the American Hospital Association has released new guidelines that advise hospitals to change any policies that prevent taking appropriate actions in a medical emergency. We cannot reverse this inexplicable tragedy, but we can and must take action so that it does not happen again.