Niece wants answers after aunt dies at Spanish Town Hospital

TASHAUNA Wallace is demanding information surrounding the death of her aunt, Merlene Wallace-Sinclair, at Spanish Town Hospital in St Catherine.

Wallace said the 60-year-old teacher was neglected by doctors, nurses and porters during her three-day stay at the institution.

Wallace told the Jamaica Observer that Wallace-Sinclair was admitted to the hospital last week Wednesday under the assumption that she might have developed pneumonia from a recurring cough. According to Wallace, she was tested for COVID-19 and the result came back negative.

Wallace explained that immediately after arriving at the hospital her aunt received “little to no assistance” from medical staff.

“The car drove up there [to the hospital]. We open the door, pull out her legs [and] tried to get assistance from a porter or a security. Nobody got up to assist us,” Wallace stated. She said that afterwards, a porter arrived with a small wheelchair and she was taken to the emergency department.

Wallace noted that after her aunt was registered she was taken to the isolation department, and that’s when the neglect became more apparent.

“They didn’t have any bed at the time. You see the same wheelchair, she sat [in] there for three days in that wheelchair,” Wallace said, visibly upset at the treatment her aunt received while under the care of medical professionals.

Wallace further stated that despite the attending doctor promising her on numerous occasions that she would receive a bed, she did not get one until Friday evening.

“The doctor keep saying me a go get a bed for her because she needs the highest level of oxygen. We go there every morning and every evening and she is in the same wheelchair — after the doctor promised she would be given a bed. He [the doctor] told me that the oxygen she was receiving can only sustain her for a while. He said that she needs the one with the tubes that goes in her nose but in order for her to get that she has to go to main isolation, and she needs a bed,” Wallace recalled.

Receiving a bed was not the only difficulty Wallace-Sinclair allegedly faced in her final days. Wallace claimed that her aunt was not permitted to use the restroom the entire time she was at the hospital.

“She call me Thursday and she tell me she want to pee from Wednesday and she seh, ‘Tash, the wheelchair a squeeze mi vagina, I really want to pee.’ I said to her to try and tell the nurse if she can assist you to the bathroom. I said to her “I’m going to stay on the line to hear.’ The nurse came and I heard the nurse saying, ‘You cyaa go to the bathroom, we are afraid yuh go there and you pass out.’ When the nurse said that she started to cry. If they were afraid that she would pass out, why no one carry her if they were afraid of her passing out?” a disgruntled Wallace questioned.

“At the time I couldn’t do anything but say, ‘Aunty, when me come tomorrow me go talk to the doctor again,’ ” she said. Wallace futher stated, “When me go to the doctor the other morning me seh to him, ‘Doctor, me ask unuh fi change the wheelchair and not even that unuh can do fi me? She want to pee an’ nuh body nuh carry ar to the bathroom.’ Him talk to me like nothing nuh go suh.”

After much discussion with the doctor Wallace said he finally assured her that they would take her to the restroom However, Wallace said that this was not done and she eventually had to take adult diapers for her to wear so that she wouldn’t need to go to the restroom.

“After wearing the pampers for over 24 hours no one looked at her to change her. She pee pee up herself an’ all do ‘number two’ too, an’ dem still nuh change her. We can’t go in the isolation ward to change her enuh, an’ when we ask the nurse ’bout it dem pretending like a lie,” said Wallace.

She went on to explain that her aunt told her she had not had anything to eat or drink since Wednesday morning, and this was evident when a nurse returned all the food and drink the family had given Wallace-Sinclair, after her death.

“She tell me say she thirsty an’ hungry an’ nobody naa assist har,” Wallace said. “I carried a lot of fruits, juice and water and me get back the whole a dem,” stated Wallace.

In spite of all the hardship Wallace-Sinclair had allegedly endured, Wallace said the family was feeling hopeful after speaking with her Saturday morning because she reported that she was feeling much better.

“We went back there the Saturday morning and the doctor said that her oxygen level is now in the 90s, which is a good thing because it was coming from the 30s. Little did we know that 2:30 [pm] that same day she died. We deh here a pray the Saturday night for her recovery an’ we nuh know seh she dead,” Wallace said, citing the exact time of death for Wallace-Sinclair.

She continued to say that, “No one called to let us know. We got a call at 5:00 pm on Sunday from her phone. The nurse called in a panic saying we need to come to the hospital now.”

After arriving at the hospital, Wallace said that the nurse spoke to Wallace-Sinclair’s husband in a room for a “long time” and then he came out with her belongings. According to Wallace, that was when she knew she had died.

“Nuhbody nah tell us how she dead. She did COVID tests and it come back negative, suh a cyaa that kill ar. She good, good Saturday morning and she just dead suh, an’ nuh body nuh call we an’ tell we until the next evening?” asked Wallace.

The Jamaica Observer made several attempts to get a comment from the hospital about the alleged neglect, without success.

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