Two of the four mothers who accused the Mount St. John’s Medical Centre (MSJMC) staff of negligence which caused their babies to suffer burns in the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), said no one in authority contacted them to assess their children’s situation to see how they could help with corrective surgery or compensation.
These are the mothers of the children born in December 2014 and February this year. Both babies are male, one was burned on the right hand (outside of his palm) and the other was burned on the right antecubital fossa (inside the bend of the elbow).
In each case, the child was left with severe scarring and one mother who took legal action and won $10,000, said the hospital is yet to pay, five years after the incident, and it is challenging the compensation order of the court. That matter is still pending, she said, and no date has been set for the hearing.
“No one reached out to me to ask or say anything. With respect to the case, it is now six months into the new year and since my lawyer told me there would be a hearing. All they told us was that there would be a hearing before the end of the year,” the woman said.
Meanwhile, the mother of the boy who was burned in February, said she has been taking the child to the clinic diligently as advised by the hospital and applying the “cream” that was prescribed.
She said she has asked numerous times to have the paediatrician examine the baby’s hand but up to yesterday, that was not facilitated. The excuse she has reportedly been given is that “the paediatrician is overseas, the paediatrician is not there.” The mom said the clinic staff took her contact information and told her someone would call her and let her know when the paediatrician returns and is available. After not hearing from them for over a month, she called to enquire and was given the same excuse.
Two months ago, OBSERVER media shared the contact details for both mothers with the hospital and the Minister of Health via WhatsApp, but only the hospital’s Communications Manager, Salma Crump, responded, while the minister, Molwyn Joseph read the message but did not respond.
In addition to that, the mothers, who said they did not want to be named publicly, also indicated that they had given the hospital their contact details prior to that, so they have concluded that it is not a case that the hospital does not know how to contact them, but that the officials simply chose not to.
The baby who was burned on the inner part of the elbow continues to experience pain even though the burn has healed almost entirely.
His mother said he cries when the hand is moved and he does not move it on his own. “I am afraid the burn probably went really deep and damaged one of his veins or it healed and pulled together too much. But I had been taking him to clinic for them to do whatever has to be done and using the cream. My baby didn’t do anything to them so why are they treating us this way? I just don’t know,” she said.
The mother said she recently returned to work but still does not have the financial means to get private medical care for the infant.
In recent weeks, the health minister and other medical officials admitted that it was negligence on the hospital’s part that caused the babies to be burned, and a promise was made to assist the parents and children.
Meanwhile, two other mothers of baby girls who were burned in the NICU said health officials reached out and met with them to get an update on their daughters and to determine what assistance was needed.
Karilyn Lewis, whose daughter was badly burned on the face in July 2018, said the hospital connected her with a surgeon who examined her daughter’s cheek and said it would take multiple surgeries to reduce the scar but still it would not be entirely repaired.
She said she does not think it wise to put the child through such trauma, as she recounted how long and painful the healing process was after the child was burned.
“I am going to leave her face like that because I cannot watch her go through that again and put a hold on her enjoying her childhood because of surgery after surgery which in the end would still not remove the scar entirely. They really should compensate us for the damage they did. I don’t know what to do about that part now,” she said.
The fourth mom whose daughter’s fingers were burned said although the hospital reached out to her, there isn’t anything she needs since her child’s fingers have healed without scar and she has full use of them. “I am ready to let it go, I have let it go,” she told OBSERVER media.
Since the burning incidents were exposed, health officials said corrective steps have been taken, to include training, to ensure there is no recurrence.