Mothers of burned babies say there was no full disclosure from MSJMC

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The mothers of two of the three babies who were burned while receiving care shortly after birth at Mount St. John’s Medical Centre (MSJMC) are refuting the hospital’s statement that it fully disclosed information to them.

The hospital issued a statement on Tuesday indicating, “MSJMC and its medical team can express that the respective families were informed with full disclosure of the related particulars and all related roles are being assessed.”

However, the mother of an affected baby who was born in January this year told OBSERVER media that since the incident she has always been told that the cause of the burns on her daughter’s fingers were unknown.

The woman, who did not want to be named, had earlier provided our newsroom with a copy of the discharge paper to support her claim.

The baby was born January 26 and – according to the document bearing the MSJMC letterhead and logo, with the sub-heading “DISCHARRGE SUMMARY, SPECIAL CARE NURSERY – she was discharged on January 30 with “burns to the right digits 1-4 on right hand … cause unknown.”

The mother maintains that her child’s fingers were fine at birth and it was a nurse who pointed out the burns the following morning when she went to see the prematurely born baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

The hospital had put mittens on the child’s hands, and the nurse removed one to show the injuries to the mother.

The woman recalls that a doctor at MSJMC subsequently said they had no idea what happened, but the hospital agreed to care for the burns free of charge until they healed – conceding that the injuries were acquired while the baby was hospitalized.

In an earlier interview, she said, “The big and index fingers were the worst … after seeing the burn I couldn’t do anything but cry to see how horrible it looked and to know I left her good.”

The child’s fingers were badly swollen and discoloured. The tips eventually turned black and, after continued treatment, they ruptured and eventually healed.

Three weeks ago, the mother told OBSERVER media she was promised an investigation would be done to determine what exactly caused her baby daughter’s burn-like injuries, but she is yet to be shown a report and has no clue whether any probe was actually done.

Yesterday she repeated that she still has no idea what was done by the authorities in connection with this matter, even after she met with Health Minister Molwyn Joseph and hospital officials who offered to help with anything the child may need in relation to the burns.

The mom said there was nothing needed at this time because the burns have healed, and she does have the means or the patience to seek redress in court.

She added that although she is relieved the child has healed, it does not take away from the emotional trauma she felt upon witnessing her child’s discomfort with her Continued on page 9

Mothers from page 8

tiny fingers badly burned, swollen and disfigured.

Another mother, Karilyn Lewis, whose baby was burned on the face last July, said she will continue to seek whatever options are available because her child is scarred for life.

Lewis said after she came public with what happened to her baby, she was invited to a meeting with Minister Joseph and other medical personnel who promised that a surgeon would examine her child’s scarred face to see what could be done.

She too has said that contrary to the hospital’s statement on Tuesday, there was never any full disclosure about what exactly happened to her child while she was in the NICU.

Lewis said she figured out for herself what had happened because she saw when the child was held up close to the UV light.

The mother said the hospital has to date not provided any thorough explanation and she does not know if any action was taken against those responsible.

The third mom who recently came public to allege that her baby was burned in the NICU in December 2014, also said there was never full disclosure from the hospital – not even up to the time she took legal action and won the case in the Magistrates’ Court.

She said it was only recently, when the hospital appealed the ruling, that those involved in her son’s care were identified and staff pointed fingers at each other.

This mother – who vowed to continue the court battle – said, contrary to Health Minister Joseph’s statement to reporters that he met with the families, no one in authority has met with or spoken to her after the incident or since she went public recently.

Tuesday evening the hospital said it “cares deeply about our patients, and we take it very seriously when anyone has been negatively affected or unhappy about the care provided. We also care deeply about our staff, whom we know are dedicated to delivering quality health care services. We support their efforts and encourage them to grow and to continue doing great work.”

But the full page press statement neither accepted nor denied responsibility for the injuries the babies manifested while in the NICU.

The hospital said “the particulars of each case cannot be revealed under the ongoing process” but “parallel efforts have been triggered to simultaneously further educate personnel, and appropriately counsel those close to the situation.”

According to the communique, the related equipment in the NICU and maternity departments “have been extensively examined to be assured of optimal performance.”

MSJMC said it “continues to amicably engage with anyone related to these matters.”

The pledge by the hospital, of which the two mothers spoke – to provide care for the affected babies – was not relayed in the communique.

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