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Sep 28, 2001

Dangrigans protest hospital conditions

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They took to the streets in the mid-morning sun, determined to have their say, even though they had more complaints than protestors. That was the scene this morning as angry Dangrigans held a peaceful demonstration at the Southern Regional Hospital alleging sub-standard care. News Five’s Jacqueline Woods reports.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting

One month ago Lavern Beaton’s seventeen-year-old daughter died at the Southern Regional Hospital due to medical complications she alleges was caused by the hospital. Today she is grieving the death of yet another family member. On Monday, September seventeenth, Beaton’s other child, a pregnant sixteen-year-old, started bleeding and complaining about abdominal pains. The young girl was taken to the Southern Regional Hospital and around 10:00 that night gave birth to a premature baby girl. The baby did not live long and the mother stayed in the hospital. Beaton alleges that the medical staff failed to render proper medical care and rid her daughter of the afterbirth.

Lavern Beaton, Mother

“They keep telling us that the bleeding is not too heavy she’s not in danger. So I tell them, “I don’t think so.”

Beaton says it was not until Tuesday, the following day, when she took matters into her own hands that her daughter finally got some relief.

Lavern Beaton

“My mind just tell me to go and massage my daughter myself. So a couple minutes after I massaged her she shouted and when I looked, I saw the afterbirth was coming out. I shouted to the doctor, along with my aunt and that’s how they came and started to clean the mess.”

On Wednesday, Beaton says when they started to make arrangements to bury the baby, they were shock to discover that the hospital already cremated the body.

Lavern Beaton

“We did not know the baby. I haven’t seen the baby, not even the mother of the child. None of us did not know the baby.”

As a result of the incident and a number of other complaints levied against Southern Regional Hospital, an adhoc committee of Dangrigans concerned about health care held a peaceful demonstration at the institution.

Shirlene Johnson, President, Dangriga Adhoc Committee

“A number of things are happening at the Southern Regional Hospital. They’re giving patients expired medications, which shouldn’t happen. They have a lady, two or three months ago, which they left a needle stuck in her rear. That needs to stop.”

The protestors say there is a serious communication problem that exists between the Cuban medical staff and patients because they say the doctors and nurses don’t speak English.

Shirlene Johnson

“We need to see to that too, because they can’t communicate with us. We don’t know what kind of medication, what kind of treatment they are giving us. They could be telling us a whole lot of parables that we no understand.”

The media did try to get some answers from the authorities who remained inside the hospital, but police security would not allow us to stay in the building, saying our presence would disrupt services.

Jacqueline Woods

“Hospital authorities would not give us any comment on camera, but in a press release stated that the Southern Regional Hospital did act in accordance with the national medical protocol and it did not carelessly incinerate a baby with garbage.”

Hospital authorities say the accusation against them is unfounded and the sixteen-year-old girl had a natural abortion, which was already in progress and that the patient aborted a foetus estimated to be less than twenty-two weeks old. But Beaton maintains that her daughter was six months pregnant and the baby was not dead at birth.

Lavern Beaton

“If the just a foetus like how they said, that would not have lived. Why would they put her in an incubator? From the day I walked in the hospital, the following day, I saw the baby sheet that I gave my daughter to bring. I tell the young lady, Debbie Williams, that looked just like my grandbaby’s sheet in the incubator. What where they doing with it if they knew it was only so. That’s why they were reluctant to tend to my daughter the night and left afterbirth in my little girl and the following day I had to do the job for them.”

Shirlene Johnson, president of Dangriga’s Adhoc Committee says although she believes the group did manage to get their message out to the hospital authorities, she is disappointed that more Dangrigans did not participate in the protest.

Shirlene Johnson

“This is a very sad situation. They took message to the media, they write the media, they go there themselves and still we can’t get a good half of the community to participate. I don’t really have to come here, but I am very concerned because my granny might drop and I’ll have to bring her here.”

Johnson says the committee will continue to monitor Southern Regional Hospital and protest against any other injustice brought against the people of Dangriga. For its part, the Southern Regional Hospital assures the general public of its continued commitment to provide the best quality care possible. Reporting for News 5, Jacqueline Woods.

News Five has been made to understand that there are no plans for the members of the Ad-hoc Committee to meet with hospital administrators to discuss any of these issues.

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