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Devastated! - Hospital staff and patients stunned by death of colleague

Published:Thursday | September 14, 2017 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell
Dr Natalie Whylie
Ophthalmologist Sonya Kay Forbes was found dead on Wednesday.
Medical officer Joy Chatman (left) and Dr Shani-Mae Wright talking about their deceased colleague yesterday.

"There was not a dry eye - everyone was crying," Errol Greene, chief executive officer of the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH), described how the staff at one of the largest departments at the health facility reacted to news yesterday that 40-year-old ophthalmologist Sonya Kay Forbes died tragically Wednesday night.

She was found dead on her bedroom floor with a stab wound to her abdomen.

Activities were scaled down at the Ophthalmology Department yesterday as Dr Forbes' colleagues struggled to come to grips with the passing of a woman who many said had a "passion for life". The doctors and nurses at the eye clinic are expected to resume regular duties today.

Head of the Corporate Communications Unit of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, Superintendent Stephanie Lindsay, who told The Gleaner that Forbes had been found dead on her bedroom floor with a stab wound, said the police are now investigating the circumstances under which she died.

Senior medical officer (SMO) at the KPH, Dr Natalie Whylie, told The Gleaner yesterday that Commissioner of Police George Quallo, who has had a close relationship with the KPH for years, accompanied her Wednesday night to Cunningham Avenue, Kingston 5, where Dr Forbes' lifeless body was discovered.

"I am confident in the capacity and the ability of the police to do their job, so I leave policing to them," Whylie said.

The SMO said that the entire Ophthalmology Department was blindsided when the management of the hospital revealed that their team member was dead.

"They were in shock; they were devastated. The patients, too, were devastated," she said.




Two chaplains, one from the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the other from the Jamaica Defence Force, provided grief counselling for the staff yesterday.

Reminiscing about her late colleague, Whylie said that Forbes had a very effervescent personality. With compelling physical beauty, the SMO said that Forbes was a 'fashionista' who was always "well put together - high heels, make-up, hair well done; excellent doctor, and very good surgeon.

"She was a brilliant and beautiful girl who was very outgoing, very caring, and very loving."

The sombre mood among staff and patients who knew Dr Forbes was evident as The Gleaner team met and spoke with doctors and nurses in the department through which she had offered dedicated service to members of the public over the last 10 years.

Michelle Rose, a patient who was treated by Forbes, was stunned by the news of her death.

"She just nice to me and talk nice to me. Mi love her." According to Rose, after receiving medical attention from Forbes, her eyesight has improved remarkably.

Dr Forbes, the mother of one child, was also her parents' only child.



Errol Greene, CEO, KPH

"She was a very hard worker - as you know, I walk the premises every morning, and she is one doctor who is always at work at eight o'clock. Very pleasant, people-centred and concerned about her patients."

Dr Shani-Mae Wright, medical officer

"She was one of the first persons I met when I just started working here. She is very accommodating, a very passionate person, passionate for ophthalmology, passionate about her patients; she was the hardest-working doctor I have ever met in terms of work ethic, in terms of always being on time, and demanding excellence from the junior staff."

Joy Chatman, nurse, ophthalmology department

"She came to me first when she joined the staff. I find her to be a very pleasant and accommodating, caring person. She will go the extra mile for her patients. She has a passion for life."

Dr Michelle Leighton, consultant ophthalmologist

"Dr Forbes is a very hard worker; she is always the first doctor here (at work). She will get here by 7:30, getting the nurses ready. She would take up a pile of dockets, sit and go through them, and she doesn't leave until her work is done. She was really an integral part of our department, and we don't know what we are going to do without her."

Babbett Bennett, sister in charge of the Eye Clinic

"Dr Forbes was kind, jovial, life loving and hard-working. Most of the times when the other doctors come, she would have already gone through all of the patients. She wants to ensure that the patients are in and out early. She cares about them very much and cares about the well-being of the staff."