Sun | Oct 25, 2020

Bust-up at Bustamante - PNP councillor, doctor clash, locking down A&E for hours

Published:Monday | November 11, 2019 | 12:34 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
Kari Douglas said her child’s illness was not being treated as a priority. File
Kari Douglas said her child’s illness was not being treated as a priority. File

A clash between People’s National Party Councillor Kari Douglas and a medical doctor at the Bustamante Hospital for Children exploded into an expletive-laden tirade and near-brawl, triggering a shutdown of the Accident and Emergency (A&E) unit for two hours.

Dr Judith Francis Bogle declined to give details of the confrontation but told The Gleaner last night that she has requested an immediate transfer from the institution because of the constant abuse staff face from patients and parents.

“This is a longstanding issue. The entire A&E and ward staff feels unsafe to report to work. I do want a transfer because I don’t feel safe. I have been in the department for five years, and every patient who visits the hospital feels as if they can do and say anything without repercussion,” she explained.

The police have confirmed the incident, which occurred between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m., and have been collecting reports.

Bustamante, the only children’s hospital in the island, is often a powder keg of emotion as the undermanned facility daily braces under pressure from hundreds of patients who often take hours to be seen and treated. Despite adjustments to improve wait times, complaints have dogged the institution.

The Gleaner understands that Douglas took her eight-month-old son to the hospital because he was reportedly roasting with fever but was told, after triage, that his case was not deemed an emergency. Things spiralled out of control, which led to the entire A&E section being closed for more than two hours before dawn Sunday.

A source at the hospital who requested anonymity because the staffer is not authorised to speak with the media reported that while the doctor was assessing another child, Douglas barged into the room, closed the door behind her, and braced it with a stool to prevent Francis Bogle from leaving. It is said that when the doctor attempted to exit, Douglas blocked her path and fired a volley of expletives in protest.

However, when The Gleaner spoke with Douglas last night, her account was one of a desperate mom trying to save her son, Xayn.

She admitted using expletives but denied physically assaulting the doctor. Douglas insisted that her son’s fever had topped 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Saturday night, I woke up and discovered he had the fever. I was very concerned. The first person I spoke to at the hospital had a bad attitude,” Douglas said.

She said that she eventually got a chance to see the doctor and was told that the child’s case was not an emergency and given a gate pass to leave the compound instead.

“I told them I wasn’t going to leave until I knew what was wrong with my son. I went into the office and closed the door behind me, and I stood by the door,” she explained.

Douglas claimed that while a patient was being attended to, the doctor took up her belongings and said she would not be seeing any more patients.

“She proceeded to push me out of the way, and a struggle developed between us. I had the baby in my hand. She left and consulted with nurses, and they shut down the entire A&E unit for about two hours. They recommended that everybody go to the University Hospital of the West Indies because they have a free paediatric unit now. The whole place got chaotic.

“The police said she wouldn’t be pressing charges for assault. [I began to swear more], because that doctor sabotaged the entire Accident and Emergency unit of our premier children’s hospital and did not report the assault?” asked Douglas.

“I should press charges because she assaulted me. The woman is four times my size, and all of this happened at a time when dengue is killing people.”

Douglas eventually took the Kidz Klinik at daybreak, where she was told that her child had conjunctivitis and a cold that had drained on to his chest. He also had a bronchial infection and was wheezing, the councillor told The Gleaner.

“The doctor prescribed a whole heap of things that cost $11,000,” she said.

Dr Michelle-Ann Richards Dawson, senior medical officer at Bustamante Hospital for Children, confirmed that an incident happened but declined to give details, telling The Gleaner that an investigation was ongoing.

Another source at the hospital has informed The Gleaner that this was the second such incident at Bustamante in two weeks.

In March 2017, staff at Bustamante walked off the job after an enraged parent smashed a glass window, causing splinters to be lodged in an attendant’s eye.