(TRINIDAD EXPRESS) – The Ministry of Health has taken action against the health workers who allegedly denied medical care to a pregnant woman who said she lost her twin babies after being chased out of the Princes Town District Hospital.
She is also claiming she was refused access to an ambulance.
The employees, among them two doctors, have been sent on administrative leave with basic pay while the claims of Pearly Graham are investigated.
Graham, a 38-year-old mother of four of Moruga, told her story to TV6’s multimedia journalist Cindy Raghubar-Teekersingh which was aired on Monday.
The Southwest Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) has appointed a four-member investigative team, which went to the hospital yesterday.
Graham said on January 21 she began experiencing what she knew to be labour pains, and asked her husband to take her to the Princes Town health facility.
What happened next left her in tears. Graham, who was six months pregnant, said she was not given priority, and other patients were treated ahead of her.
And when she finally saw the doctor on duty “he said they don’t do nothing for my situation there. He said get out! go from here! What are you doing here? He said get out, gone from here. I was shocked, my husband was shocked. I saw an ambulance there. I said (to the hospital staff) I thought you all would put me in an ambulance and send me down to San Fernando. He said ‘no go from here’.”
Graham said she asked for the contact number for the ambulance so she could make a call to be taken up outside the hospital compound but “they said they don’t have the ambulance number. It was a security officer who gave us the number”.
Graham said her husband took her to San Fernando before an ambulance could meet them.
At the San Fernando General Hospital, Graham said she was taken to the labour ward, where the heartbeats of her babies were detected. Within minutes the children were delivered.
She said, “A doctor came in and she told me that it don’t make sense doing anything for them (the newborns), because they would still lose them. They both born alive. When my husband came in, I told them, they did not do anything, and I cannot work with that. I said if they tried, and they lose them, I could deal with that, but not knowing, I cannot.”
Graham’s husband, Jermaine, 46, said he was told that the loss of the twins was considered a miscarriage and that no death certificate would be produced. The couple was given the option of taking the twins away to a funeral home, or allow the hospital to dispose of the bodies. The babies were left at the hospital.
Graham said she was admitted to the ward with all the new mothers and their babies. She said it felt like torture, being in a space with babies “after all that I went through”.
Graham added: “I just couldn’t believe a doctor was dealing with me like that in my situation, my condition. If he don’t want this job, take it seriously, or find another profession. People may be going through their things, and to get that from a doctor, somebody you should trust with your life. You wouldn’t want that for your own family…”.
The SWRHA said that there were adequate ambulances to service all its facilities, and that “a proactive comprehensive investigation is underway, to determine and comprehend the circumstances surrounding the entire situation. The Authority’s staff has been in regular contact with our valued patient and has commiserated on the unfortunate loss of her precious twins.”
The SWRHA said an undisclosed number of employees “involved in the incident” had been sent on leave, pending the outcome of the investigation, “which would review the processes and practices, which ensures compliance with international best practice in healthcare, to review and recommend, if possible, any policy changes or guidance”.