First-time mom blames hospital for baby’s death
What started out for Shattelee Young as a series of shopping sprees, with life readjustments to welcome her first child into the world, has ended with dour preparation for the funeral of a two-day-old baby.
Young has raised concern about postnatal policy and procedures at the Mandeville Regional Hospital, where her newborn was delivered three weeks before the scheduled March 1 date.
Complaints about healthcare standards at hospitals are not rare in Jamaica's under-resourced public-health system and investigative mechanisms are notoriously slow and bureaucratic, causing disputes to drag on for months and sometimes years.
Young said she gave birth to her baby on Tuesday, February 8, at 12:46 a.m. and was discharged, along with her baby, who weighed four pounds, at approximately 3:30 p.m. the same day.
The 28-year-old said her excitement grew following the reassurance she had been given by the nurse on the floor.
“It was one nurse working on the floor, and I kept on asking if the baby was okay, and the response I got was 'yes'. As a first-time mother, I can't tell the signs of a premature baby and no one had spoken to me about [what to expect] with a premature baby versus a full-term baby,” she said in a Gleaner interview.
Young she said she wondered why she was not subjected to a final medical examination, not given general counsel on care of a preterm baby, and alerted as to whether the child should have remained at the hospital for observation as a cautionary measure.
Two days later, on Thursday, February 10, while at home, Young found her baby unresponsive.
“The baby was quite fine, but as a first-time mother, I wouldn't know what to expect … ,” said an emotional Young, who struggled to continue the interview.
Her sister, Kadian Morris, told The Gleaner that she was with her sister at home the day everything happened.
“She breastfeed the baby and then gave the baby to me to hold for her to go and have a bath … . She came back from the bathroom, took the baby, and breastfeed him again. She held up the baby for about half an hour so the baby could burp and then she put down the baby,” Morris said.
Morris disclosed that Young subsequently went outside to hang an item on the clothes line and returned to the room to discover that something was wrong.
The mother desperately blew into the baby's eyes and reportedly ran out of the house with the child and boarded a cab to Mandeville Hospital.
Little Akesh Parkinson was pronounced dead on arrival.
“My sister and the father of the child were so excited for their first child. The father was excited for a son so much that he even went overseas to shop for the baby. We even planned a baby shower the Sunday before … . We are all so broken. Since it happened, we haven't been able to sleep properly,” Morris said.
Alwyn Miller, chief executive officer of Mandeville Hospital, said in an email response to The Gleaner that the hospital is investigating the matter.
“The Mandeville Regional Hospital regrets the passing of the baby of Miss Shattelee Young and sympathises with her and her family during this period. We have extended an invitation to Miss Young to meet with the hospital complaint management team to respond to her queries,” Miller said.
Young, who is now blaming the hospital for negligence, maintains that the child should have been kept at the hospital for observation and that she should have been briefed about care and concerns involving a preterm baby.
She reported that her pregnancy “was fine throughout”, with very mild side effects. The 28-year-old said she is sharing her story to alert other women giving birth.
“I was looking forward to having this baby 100 per cent … . No words can explain how I feel now,” she said.
The family is also accusing the hospital of causing undue stress in their efforts to get a medical report.
“When we went to the hospital the next day to get a medical report, they said they had nothing to do with it because the baby died on arrival, and we will have to go to the funeral home to organise a private post-mortem … ,” said Morris.
“But the funeral home said we needed a letter from the hospital. We were just sent all over the place, sent back and forth, and confused.”