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Opposition objects to SERHA board director leading neonate probe

Published:Monday | May 14, 2018 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Dr Dayton Campbell
Dr. Patrice Charles

The breach in protocol that resulted in the improper disposal of the bodies of two neonates that were stored along with other body parts in the morgue at the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) will trigger changes at the institution, according to Senior Medical Officer Dr Orville Morgan.

At the same time, the Opposition People's National Party has said that it was sickened by the gruesome discovery of missing bodies of neonates at the KPH and the subsequent finding of the missing dead babies among stray dogs in downtown Kingston.

The PNP said that questions must arise around the Government's approach to the investigation, noting that Dr Patrece Charles, a former electoral candidate for the governing Jamaica Labour Party, was a director of the South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA), under whose watch the KPH falls, and thus would be unfit to lead the probe.

"The appointment is highly inappropriate and the results of any investigation carried out under her leadership could not be taken seriously, as the fact of Dr Charles' membership should disqualify her, as it breached the principle of natural justice and fairness," said Dayton Campbell, the shadow minister on health.

"Consequently, the party strongly objects to the appointment of ... Charles as the sole inquirer in this scandalous mess," Campbell noted.

He said that he believed that the investigation should be carried out by people independent of SERHA, who are qualified in the area of the subject matter, including the use of forensic technology.

Meanwhile, Morgan told The Gleaner that preliminary investigations found that the bodies were inadvertently moved while other body parts were being taken out of the freezer for disposal.

"This happened because the bodies were not stored in the right place. The bodies of babies were to be in a different freezer. The changes will influence how bodies are stored, removed and disposed of," he said.

Hospital protocol dictates that bodies that are stored in the morgue should only be removed once a burial order and release form have been issued. However, preliminary investigations revealed that there was a breach of this protocol.

As a consequence, the supervisor of the morgue department was sent on leave with immediate effect pending further investigation.

Following the incident, SERHA issued an edict that the hospital initiate a review of procedures "with respect to the storage and disposal of bodies in order to ensure appropriate measures are in place to prevent any further reoccurrence".