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Sep 2, 2014

Supreme Court Orders Mediation in Deaths of Five Neonates at KHMH

In early May 2013 there were thirteen reported infant deaths at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital. A subsequent investigation revealed the presence of a deadly bacteria, enterobacter cloacae, in the neonatal unit. K.H.M.H. officials never took absolute responsibility for the tragic deaths in any form or fashion, and the grieving parents were left to try to piece together their shattered lives as best they could. Five of them decided to pursue legal action against the hospital, and the matter was ordered into mediation by the Court. The session was held today in the chief Justice’s conference room, and our News Five team has the story of some measure of closure after almost a year and a half of frustration and pain.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

The mediation session, a new option to lengthy and expensive litigation, was held in this conference room behind the court of the Chief Magistrate. The five mothers who pursued legal action were represented by attorney Kareem Musa. They asked us not to show them on camera because it was an emotional time for them. The session lasted more than three hours while an agreement was brokered by the mediator. That included private discussions with KHMH CEO Gary Longsworth and his attorney, as well as discussions with both attorneys outside the conference room. Finally, at nearly one this afternoon, there was an agreement.

 

Gary Longsworth, C.E.O., K.H.M.H.

Gary Longsworth

“We arrived at a settlement but we cannot disclose anything about it, it’s all confidential.”

 

Reporter

“Are all parties satisfied?”

 

Gary Longsworth

“I imagine so.”

 

Kareem Musa

Kareem Musa,  Attorney for Mothers

“I will agree that in fact a settlement was arrived at…all the parties discussed it, there was a back and forth and at the end of the day all the parties are satisfied. Certainly it can be argued that litigation fatigue set in. As you know these mothers have been going through a lot over the last year and a half since losing their children at the hospital, and the process only brings it back. Each and every time they have to go through these lengthy processes here at the court they just want to put it behind them. And certainly that is what was done today.”

 

The settlement includes an apology and a financial settlement by the KHMH. The agreement today was made with five mothers who lost their babies to a deadly bacteria at the KHMH last year. There were allegedly thirteen infant deaths, but the other mothers were not involved in this mediation process for their own reasons.

 

Kareem Musa

“You have within one year. There is a statute of limitations within which they are to bring their claims. As I understand it they were not interested. They wanted to put it behind them right off the bat so they never instituted action and as I understand it these were the only ones interested in going that route.”

 

For these parents whose babies died at the hospital in 2013, resolution and closure were long in coming, but litigation in the courts would likely have taken much longer. And while there is a financial settlement, it wasn’t really about that.

 

Kareem Musa

“Had it gone to full trial I believe that they may have gotten a little more, but certainly it is within the range. No amount of money can bring back their children. I think that we have to realize that this thing is more emotional than anything else, and all they really wanted from the hospital was an apology, so whether it was one dollar or a million dollars, it never mattered to them in the first place. They felt disrespected, they felt that the hospital just threw them under the bus and this was an opportunity for them to vent, and certainly this was one of the reasons we took so long in the conference room, because they had that opportunity to vent, and it was very emotional, very traumatic but I think they do not want to have to go through this any longer. They just want their children to pass with dignity.”

The mediator in today’s session was Joliker Leandre, the regional commander of the Salvation Army. The KHMH was represented by attorney Leshawn Torres. Mike Rudon for News Five.

 

Unconfirmed reports are that the K.H.M.H. has agreed to make a payment of ten thousand dollars to each of the mothers represented today. That payment, we are told, must be made on or before September thirtieth.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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2 Responses for “Supreme Court Orders Mediation in Deaths of Five Neonates at KHMH”

  1. venus says:

    My tax will be use to compensate these victims, yet I am not privilege to the amount of money these victims will receive. Is this the new norm for Belize in the mediation process in our justice system?

  2. Karen says:

    This is a shame if they only got 10,000. Does this hospital understand how difficult pregnancy is? Do they understand the emotional change that a mother goes through after she looses a child that she carried 9 months? I dare one of them to imagine loosing a child due to the irresponsibility of a hospital. Would 10,000 be enough? NOOOO

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