Finally buried after 21 months
One year and nine months after he died in the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) on December 4, 2020, Daniel Palmer was finally laid to rest on Friday, September 23, 2022.
Daughter Nalika Palmer told The Gleaner that while the family was relieved to be able to finally bury him, the delay had taken significant emotional and financial toll on the grieving relatives, who are still hurting.
The family of the 77-year-old man had been unable to retrieve the body after it was embalmed in error, with his children contending that this was deliberately orchestrated by the UHWI to hide the true cause of Palmer’s death.
According to hospital records, Palmer was admitted to the hospital with an injured little toe, which was infected with gangrene. He died after 11 days.
Relatives contracted Dr Jephthah Ford to conduct a private autopsy. However, the pathologist, who died on March 28, 2022, did not release the findings of the examination. For this reason, the hospital declared that it was unable to release the body.
“The body was inadvertently sent to the wrong mortician, where the body was embalmed, I believe. So that would have distorted any autopsy result, and I am just presuming, I am not a medical doctor,” Kevin Allen, chief executive officer of the UHWI, admitted to The Gleaner last year.
Nalika, along with her sisters – Tracy-Ann Palmer, Alsia Palmer Hanchard and Rochelle Palmer – persisted in their claim that the hospital was covering up the true cause of death, which they contended was due to an adverse reaction to medication their father was administered.
They believed the embalming was done a month late to make it difficult to determine with any degree of scientific certainty the true cause of death.
The matter was finally settled in September when the Supreme Court ruled in the family’s favour, paving the way for Palmer to be buried.