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Board said to be unhappy with prelim Spanish Town Hospital report


THE board of the South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA) is reportedly dissatisfied with the preliminary report on the controversial circumstances surrounding the death of 26-year-old Shanique Armstrong’s baby girl.

The report, which was prepared by Spanish Town Hospital’s management whose staff have been heavily criticised for their alleged handling of the matter, was handed over to the board of the regulatory body on Wednesday.

The Jamaica Observer has been reliably informed that the document has been sent back by the board for additional information.

A Sunday Observer source close to discussions being had, and who requested anonymity because he was not authorised to speak publicly on the matter, said that the names of staff members on duty at the time of the incident between June 1 and 2 have been left out of the document.

The source said that the board has requested a more detailed report, outlining the events that led to the death of the infant and the alleged mistreatment of Armstrong.

The Sunday Observer first reported on June 6 that Armstrong visited the hospital for a recurring cough but ended up delivering her baby on her own in the company of strangers.

Armstrong, who went into preterm labour while on a bed in the waiting area of the hospital’s Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department, said that her cries for help went unanswered by hospital staff, including nurses, whom she said insisted that they were not trained to deliver babies.

No doctor was reportedly available at the time.

Armstrong was 24 weeks pregnant.

She said that her baby died sometime after her delivery.

Human rights watchdog Stand Up for Jamaica has called for a thorough investigation of the matter, which has sparked public outcry since last week.

“When we say a thorough investigation will be done for this one time, for the first I would love that this is so. Anytime they announce that a big investigation will take place, nothing happens. It bothered me, deeply, the rude approach [allegedly] taken by the hospital staff towards Shanique. She was in labour asking for help and she got none.

“I know how difficult it is sometimes in the public hospitals. I’ve been to KPH [Kingston Public Hospital] a lot of times and I see the general arrangement, but the staff which are working in these facilities are always to practise humanity. It cannot always be that patients in trouble must just sit down and wait. You are most times talking to somebody who is in pain, who is in trouble and needs help. I have all sympathies for their working conditions but they have to do better. This has become a part of our culture. It is not an isolated incident,” Carla Gullotta told the Sunday Observer.

At the same time, she said that the report should be made public in the interest of transparency “on condition though that it causes no further harm to the family”.

Last Wednesday, Robert Morgan, the state minister of information, told journalists at a post-Cabinet press briefing that the findings of the report will be made public.

“Primarily and fundamentally, the welfare of our citizens who interact with the health care system is paramount in the consciousness of the Government. I just want to reiterate [again our sincere condolences to the mother who lost her child]. We can assure that the Ministry of Health [and Wellness] and the Government [are] looking into the matter and there is an investigation taking place — the results of which will be made public so that people will appreciate what the circumstances were and if actions need to fall, and who they will fall on,” said Morgan.

But Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton told Nationwide News on Friday that while he was not averse to making the report public, he will be guided by legal advice in terms of making the document public.

“I have no difficulty in making a report of this nature, that has created such national interest and outcry and speculation, public. I think it would serve the purposes of being transparent and I think that is important. Confidence in the process is important… Clearly, I would need to take some advice because these issues can become legal issues and so on. I’m not a lawyer and so I have to be guided,” Tufton said.

Armstrong on Tuesday declined an invitation by the facility’s management to meet.

The woman said then that she had no intention of meeting with the team, following a statement released by the South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA) on Monday in which Spanish Town Hospital’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Jacqueline Wright-James said based on preliminary findings of a probe, “clinical procedures were followed”.

She subsequently told Nationwide News that Armstrong did, in fact, deliver the baby without assistance.

“They called me a liar without getting a report from me or even the hospital. I am not going to any meeting with them. How do they know I’m lying without proof? How the investigation still going on but the lady can say procedures were followed?” Armstrong told Observer Online then.

“I was not well hydrated, as is the claim. I have pictures to prove it. Nothing they [have said] so far is true. I’m not going,” she insisted.

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