TRINIDAD: Mom dies at home, 2 days after Covid test

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(Trinidad Express) – ATTORNEYS representing the son of a Rio Claro woman who was found dead outside her home in early September have written to Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh and Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Roshan Parasram, in an attempt to obtain his mother’s medical records.

Fazal Khan is also seeking information on whether an autopsy will be performed on her body. Additionally, he is asking that the State take no decision to cremate his mother’s body “until we have concluded our deliberations”.

The letter was written by attorney ­Terry Boyer, who along with attorneys Lemuel Murphy and Joseph Sookoo are seeking Khan’s interest. It was delivered to Deyal­singh and Parasram yesterday.

According to the letter, on September 1, Khan’s mother Rohanie Samdai, who lived alone, visited the Rio Claro Health Facility because she felt ill.

While there, she was administered a Covid-19 test and advised to return home and self-isolate for 14 days. Two days later, she was found dead ­outside her home.

Police were contacted, and her body was removed to the health centre, where she was pronounced dead by a district medical officer. The body was then taken to Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Mt Hope, for an autopsy.

The letter stated that since then, Samdai’s body has been in State custody.

On Tuesday, Khan received his mother’s Covid-19 test result, which showed she had tested negative for the virus.

He was informed at the hospital that the following day, Wednesday, he would have been allowed to view and identify Samdai’s body and make arrangements with police and a funeral agency, when the autopsy was complete, for the funeral to take place.

But the letter said after Khan identified the body, a senior doctor informed him that a second Covid-19 test would have to be done, and it was only when those results were returned would a decision be made as to whether the body would be released to him.

Boyer stated that Khan and his family were even more distressed since they are Muslims and, based on their religion, a body should be buried as soon as possible after death.

“This meant that funeral planning and preparations should not be delayed. To date this has not been done,” the latter stated.

Boyer said Khan had also asked for his mother’s medical records, but the request was denied.

He said Khan and the rest of the ­family are concerned about the decision of the senior doctor to do a second Covid-19 test since this was contrary to the Health Ministry’s ­guidelines for hospital staff and funeral agencies. He requested that Deyalsingh and Parasram explain this decision by the senior doctor, as well as provide Khan with copies of all Samdai’s medical records.

“We also expect that having informed you, by this letter, of our intention to consider the result of the second Covid-19 test and/or any autopsy conducted by the State, and/or any decision to cremate the body as a result of any positive Covid-19 result, that you will not take such steps until we have concluded our deliberation,” Boyer wrote.

“We cannot express the current state of mental distress and anxiety our client and his family is undergoing as they cannot grieve in peace and bring closure to the passing of their loved one, due to this continued detention of the body of their loved one,” the letter added.

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