SERHA responds to dead baby saga

THE management of Spanish Town Hospital in St Catherine is denying a report that the death of a baby there last Wednesday was a result of clinical procedures not being followed.

In a statement released yesterday by the South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA) — the statutory body responsible for the delivery of health care in the parish — senior medical officer for the hospital Dr Jacqueline Wright-James said based on preliminary findings of a probe, “clinical procedures were followed”.

Wright-James said the hospital management will conduct phase two of the investigation and the outcome will be shared with the board of SERHA.

The Jamaica Observer first reported on Sunday that 26-year-old Shanique 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, told the Observer 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, who was 24 weeks pregnant, said the infant died sometime after her delivery.

Wright-James said that the hospital’s management is expected to meet with Armstrong and her family “to offer counselling and other support where necessary”.

Meanwhile, the statement said that the board of SERHA has asked for a report on the matter. It said that a full report is expected no later than Wednesday.

“The board will meet the following Thursday to discuss the matter surrounding the unfortunate death of a baby delivered inside the reconfigured space at the Accident and Emergency Department, Spanish Town Hospital,” the statement read.

This is Armstrong’s second time experiencing loss at the largest Type B hospital on the island as her daughter died during labour last September.

She said she was 32 weeks then.

Armstrong told the Observer that her ordeal began when she visited the hospital on May 29 after feeling unwell. She said she was admitted, but space issues at the facility caused her to be rolled into the unit’s waiting area along with other patients who had also been admitted.

The then-expectant mother said she remained at that location for a few days while being observed by nurses on duty.

It was during this time, Armstrong said, she began having stomach pains, which she said she reported to the nurses who had been observing her.

Although intermittent, the pain would return stronger each time, Armstrong said.

“Mi go there for a cough, which dem seh a pneumonia mi have, and they wanted to treat it. I never went to have my baby or anything. I remember I start to feel pain and tell the nurse. She was doing vitals. Mi seh, ‘Nurse, mi nuh like how this pain feel enuh.’ She asked mi if I pee from I come. Mi tell her, ‘Yes.’ She walked away and tell the other nurse dem ‘Armstrong seh she a feel pain.’ That was it,” the woman, who has a four-year-old daughter, recalled.

She said at that point she convinced herself that the pain was not an indication of a serious problem, because the professionals had not reacted in a manner which suggested it was.

Armstrong would eventually learn otherwise as she shifted restlessly, she said, to ease her discomfort.

“All this time I was on a bed in the waiting area. I lie down and keep tossing my body from side to side. I’m saying to myself this feels like labour pain. I would know what labour pain feel like because I have a daughter and it’s not the first I’m pregnant,” said the St Catherine resident.

On June 1, Armstrong said her water broke.

She said she alerted the nurse to what had happened but was not given the attention warranted.

“She asked me if mi sure a nuh pee. She walk away and another nurse come and ask what do mi. I tell her and she ask mi if mi sure. Mi go as far as put mi hand inna the water and show her. She walk weh too. Mi hear a next nurse shout out, ‘Give her a bedpan in case anything come out; dem love seh Spanish Town kill dem baby,’ ” Armstrong alleged, noting that the pain was “terrible” and had grown “unbearable”.

She said around midnight she was told by the nurse on duty that a doctor had been summoned.

The woman said she continued to reel in pain until some time after 2:00 am when she delivered the baby herself. She said that she also removed her placenta herself.

She said no assistance was rendered to her and that the baby, who was reportedly alive, died shortly after.

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