Sat | Dec 7, 2019

Patria-Kaye Aarons | The mother of all fiascos

Published:Tuesday | January 15, 2019 | 12:00 AM

Something that seems an everyday occurrence at Victoria Jubilee Hospital scares the bejesus out of me. I don't think a mummy who wants to pee should have to ask the mother in the bed next to her to give an eye on her newborn.

But, apparently, that's what happens daily. You give birth, and to facilitate breastfeeding, bonding and adjusting to mummy life, your baby is placed in a cot beside your bed. I understand that and find it endearing.

The part I find shocking is that mummies who want to shower or use the bathroom either leave the babies in the cot unattended, rely on the kindness of the stranger in the adjacent bed to babysit, or hold all bodily functions until some friend or family member visits them and can watch the baby.

My belief is that there ought to be a nurse on the floor available to stand in the gap. The reason mummy and baby are still admitted is so that they are under the watchful eye of medical professionals. Heaven forbid something happen to a baby while a mother bathes. We would all call for heads to roll and ask why nobody was paying attention.

 

SECURITY PROTOCOLS

 

It's clear that security protocols at all our maternity wards need urgent attention. I can't imagine the anguish Suzett Whyte and her partner, Sinclair Hutton, are going through, even now as their one-week-old son is nowhere to be found. Snatched and taken in the wee hours of the morning past what should have been two manned security checkpoints?

Not only was there a breach of security, but the actual measures in place are clearly woefully inadequate. Three instances of children being stolen from three different hospitals in one year across the island is a clear signal that security regimes need a total overhaul. Immediately.

This should never have happened again. Beyond the access muck-ups, there's clearly a monitoring issue as well. I understand that nurses are stretched beyond their human capabilities. I understand that day after day, they are required to work unconscionable hours and attend to a number of patients that's well above the industry recommendation. We allow these shortcomings to our own peril as a country.

I'm in no way blaming nurses for what happened last week at Victoria Jubilee. But I am saying that were there enough resources in place to ensure a mummy could leave her baby with a nurse on duty while she relieved herself, we might not be here for a third time.

I'm also wondering how a stranger could possibly have been lurking in the hallways of the hospital long before visiting hours and nobody saw, or raised an alarm. No hospital staff. No security guards. How did she get on and off the compound with a baby at a time nobody should be coming and going other than hospital staff?

And as we ask these questions, all of which should have been anticipated and answered as far back as December 2017 when the first baby girl was stolen in eerily similar circumstances, a mother mourns. Mourns with the agony of not knowing. Not knowing where her child is, or if he has eaten, or who has him, or why they took him, or if she will ever hold him in her arms again. I mourn with her.

- Patria-Kaye Aarons is a confectioner and broadcaster. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and findpatria@gmail.com.