Docs deny sick baby care at health centre - too close to closing time

Less than three weeks af­ter Si­mone Chadee gave birth in the back seat of a car af­ter be­ing turned away by staff at the Mara­bel­la Health Cen­tre, a moth­er and her ail­ing ba­by have al­leged­ly been de­nied treat­ment at the same fa­cil­i­ty be­cause it was about to close.

Mara­bel­la res­i­dent Suni­ta Bal­go­b­in shared her or­deal on Face­book on Fri­day af­ter she and her one-year-old son were de­nied care at the fa­cil­i­ty. In re­sponse to her Face­book post, many users took the op­por­tu­ni­ty to com­ment about the poor med­ical ser­vice they have re­ceived.

Yes­ter­day, Bal­go­b­in told the T&T Guardian a staff mem­ber has since been mes­sag­ing her con­stant­ly, telling her to re­move the post.

Con­tact­ed on the is­sue, South West Re­gion­al Health Au­thor­i­ty (SWRHA) CEO Kei­th Mc­Don­ald said he has ini­ti­at­ed an in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­to Bal­go­b­in’s claims. The Qual­i­ty Im­prove­ment De­part­ment (QID) has al­so con­tact­ed Bal­go­b­in to dis­cuss any fur­ther con­cerns and to have the rel­e­vant arrange­ments made. Mc­Don­ald said a pre­lim­i­nary re­port should reach his desk this morn­ing.

“I don’t want to talk about it out of turn be­fore hear­ing the full sto­ry. So far, we have ver­bal in­for­ma­tion and I don’t like to go on that alone. I will have more in­for­ma­tion on Mon­day morn­ing,” Mc­Don­ald said yes­ter­day.

Bal­go­b­in con­firmed to Guardian Me­dia yes­ter­day that she was con­tact­ed by the QID to as­cer­tain whether her son’s con­di­tion had im­proved and whether she still want­ed to vis­it the San Fer­nan­do Gen­er­al Hos­pi­tal. How­ev­er, she said she had con­cerns about the feared long wait­ing hours at the hos­pi­tal.

Re­call­ing the in­ci­dent, she said on Fri­day her son’s eyes start­ed get­ting red and swollen un­til he could bare­ly open them. She said she got to the health cen­tre at 3.43 pm and told the clerk at the counter that she need­ed to see a doc­tor. Bal­go­b­in said the clerk’s re­sponse was that the doc­tors would not see her son as it was al­most time to close and they had stopped ac­cept­ing pa­tients. De­spite telling the clerk it was not yet 4 pm and the ba­by need­ed a doc­tor, the clerk’s re­sponse was that some­one else was al­ready turned away.

“The clerk at the counter did not ad­vise any­thing. She on­ly in­di­cat­ed that they would not tend to me. Her ex­act words were: ‘The doc­tor has two pa­tients to tend to and they have al­ready turned away two peo­ple so I am sure they would not take you’. I re­spond­ed: ‘So you’re telling me I’m here with a 13-month-old ba­by that has an emer­gency and you’re telling me that the doc­tor won’t see me?’ That’s when she re­spond­ed: ‘I not telling yuh noth­ing’ in a very rude tone and re­fused to make eye con­tact keep­ing her head down,” Bal­go­b­in claimed.

Wor­ried about her son’s health, Bal­go­b­in walked to­wards four nurs­es stand­ing near­by and asked if some­one could look at him and at least ad­vise her on his con­di­tion. One of the nurs­es walked over to the doc­tor to in­form a doc­tor there was an emer­gency with the ba­by.

How­ev­er, the doc­tor’s re­sponse was that they could not help Bal­go­b­in and that she should go to the San Fer­nan­do Gen­er­al Hos­pi­tal emer­gency de­part­ment if she need­ed help.

In her post, Bal­go­b­in showed a pho­to of a clock on the wall at the fa­cil­i­ty show­ing it was then 3.53 pm. Seek­ing some kind of as­sis­tance, she con­tact­ed the SWRHA com­plaints hot­line where the at­ten­dants told her to wait while they con­tact­ed the health cen­tre. Al­though health cen­tres usu­al­ly close at 4 pm, Guardian Me­dia un­der­stands that the Mara­bel­la Health Cen­tre op­er­ates un­der ex­tend­ed hours and was sup­posed to close at 9 pm. But Bal­go­b­in said when the SWRHA at­ten­dants got on the phone with the doc­tor, se­cu­ri­ty was or­dered to put her off the com­pound.

“The se­cu­ri­ty came a to­tal of four times and asked me to leave the com­pound, say­ing he is se­cur­ing the gov­ern­ment prop­er­ty and needs me to take my call out­side. Even the per­son on the phone who was from the Qual­i­ty De­part­ment told him that I am to re­main in the com­pound as they are on the phone with the doc­tor at the mo­ment and re­quired me to stay right there. He still in­di­cat­ed that he has in­struc­tions from the doc­tor that I should be re­moved from the com­pound,” Bal­go­b­in said.

She said the at­ten­dant from the QID was shocked and a nurse hid­ing be­hind a wall out­side the build­ing told the se­cu­ri­ty of­fi­cer to call the po­lice and be­gan be­rat­ing her. She said a se­nior nurse came out and twice told the nurse to stop quar­relling and stay qui­et. Half an hour lat­er, she said two doc­tors walked out the health cen­tre and went to their cars.

“That’s just my con­fir­ma­tion that all they care about is the large sums of mon­ey that go in­to their bank ac­counts at the end of the month.”

She said her per­son­al doc­tor, who was about to have a sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dure done, lat­er asked his doc­tor to give him a minute so that he could lis­ten to her prob­lem and ad­vise on what med­ica­tion she should ad­min­is­ter to her son.

- by Kevon Felmine 

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