Two more women have come forward with tales of horror at the nation’s hospitals.
One of the women shared her experience at the San Fernando General Hospital from back in October while another detailed the nightmare of learning that she was pregnant two days before she lost her baby at the Scarborough General Hospital in Tobago.
Guardian Media sat with 27-year-old Shenelle Wallace yesterday and she claimed that three days after her baby was pronounced dead, with no heartbeat, blood flow or brain activity, no doctors came to remove the baby.
“ I had a child inside me, to my knowing maybe decaying and they didn’t have no sense of urgency,” Wallace said.
“After being told that the baby had no heartbeat, no blood flow and no brain activity, I wanted to get it out,” she said.
Wallace said that even after waiting for days in a chair as no beds were available when she eventually did get a bed, she was made to give birth to her stillborn daughter on the ward, in full view of other patients and visitors.
“My question was, okay, if I’m ready to give birth are you all taking me over to delivery. One of the nurses said no, you could have it right here,” Wallace said.
“This is a ward with a lot of beds, during visiting hours. People already coming in. I said right here? They said yes, we’d just pull the curtain,” she said.
Wallace said while the privacy curtain was pulled around her left side, the entire right side was exposed to the other women in the ward as well as their male visitors.
“The patient is next to me, she is watching as I am giving birth and her curtain is not pulled and there are guys, there are men walking up and down, there is patients, people who came to see their family. So I am basically exposed,” she said.
She said the nurses spread blue paper on the bed and when the baby was out, told her she could not touch it.
“When I gave birth, they just took the baby and kind of wrapped her up in a piece of paper like she was trash,” she said.
Wallace has been promised grief counselling but was told she had to seek it herself and was given a referral.
“I asked them about the grief counselling and they just gave me a paper, I still have it. They said I had to apply for it myself,” she said.
Wallace though is a housewife with two young daughters 5 and 2 and said it takes all her time and energy to bring herself to look after them.
“After that happened, I slept on the floor, I didn’t want to be on the bed with my husband or my children. I felt like there was supposed to be one more. I didn’t want to see them,” she said.
“It was really hard, my husband he couldn’t really grieve because he had to be strong for me because he knew that I was a mess,” she said.
“You always hear the horror stories and you think that when you go into the hospital, this would never happen to me and being a pregnant woman I thought, you know, they would treat you with such respect and hold you to higher regard because you are bringing life, but they didn’t care, they didn’t care one bit,” she said.
Wallace said coming out of her pain, she wanted to share her story to highlight what was happening at the public hospitals.
“We have to speak out to get things to change,” she said.
Another woman, Stephanie Michelle Mena learned of her own pregnancy just two days before she lost her baby.
Mena told Guardian Media that she visited the Scarborough General Hospital last Friday with severe back pains and learned that she was pregnant. She was also told that neither she nor the baby was in danger and she was just suffering from a bladder infection.
Mena said she was checked by a gynaecologist who “pressed really hard on my stomach”. when she was first admitted to the hospital on Friday night. She said there was little attention paid to her or her pain until one doctor offered her morphine.
“I refused because even though he said it was safe, I was scared that it could harm the baby. I would rather be in pain than hurt my child,” she said.
Mena said she has left on her own again, and even though she was prescribed antibiotics, none was administered to her.
She said that the one time nurses came to check on her was to ask her to give up her bed for a “more critical case”.
“I told them that I was put on bed rest because I was had fluids leaking and they didn’t listen. I was forced from my bed and I had to sit on a chair for hours,” she said.
The 19-year old first-time mom said that by Sunday morning around 4.40 am. she realised that she was bleeding and went to the bathroom.
“I felt a lot of pressure and then my baby came out. I saw his head, he was still attached to me,” she said.
“I used tissue to hold him and he had ten fingers and ten toes. He was perfectly formed already,” she said.
Mena said she screamed for the nurse but none came.
“One of the patients in the room went to get the nurse and she came and told me to clean up and hugged me and she brought this blue sheet of paper and told me to leave the baby in the sheet on the seat they had in the bathroom,” she said.
Mena said she called her parents and her finance to be with her at the hospital.
“My son remained there on that seat, wrapped in the paper until around 8 am,” she said.
Mena said her parents warned her about coming forward with her story out of fear of victimisation at the same hospital.
“But I don’t care. My sadness has turned to anger and I have so many questions. What if they treated me with the antibiotics when they were supposed to? what if the first doctor didn’t press so hard on my stomach? what if I wasn’t taken off the bed and given a chair?” Mena asked.
*Guardian Media allowed these women to share their stories freely and uninhibited.
The newspaper intends to get responses from various health officials about these specific cases.