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Jun 4, 2013

COLA and parents of dead babies want answers

Thirteen newborn infants died in the neonatal intensive care unit of the K.H.M.H. in the first twenty days of May. Officials say seven can be blamed on an organism known as Enterobacter Cloacae and the death of the others was caused by the babies being premature. The origin of the deadly bacteria remains unknown and an internal investigation has yielded little information. And that is the reason why COLA, Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action, has upped the ante and is making a push for answers. Today, representatives from COLA, concerned Belizeans and some of the parents who lost their newborns to the mysterious bacteria outbreak at the K.H.M.H. told that media that they want answers and they want it now. Mike Rudon has the story.


Mike Rudon, Reporting

At a press conference held on May thirtieth, Prime Minister Dean Barrow revealed that plans are underway to construct a new neonatal intensive care unit. That news is no consolation to parents who have lost their newborns at the KHMH and have been given few answers to account for the tragic loss. Today, three of those parents are still struggling to figure out how one minute their babies could have been doing so well, and in another instant they were dead.


Stephen Panton

Stephen Panton, Newborn Died May 5th

“Every morning since the birth of my child, we have had nothing but good news. Every day he was improving, he was starting to eat more. He was just starting to be able to breastfeed.”


But on the day his son turned six days old, they found him moaning in pain. Doctors told Panton and the baby’s mother to go home while they did assorted tests, saying they would call if anything bad showed up.


Stephen Panton

“We went through the whole night and the phone didn’t ring. So when we got up in the morning, I told mi girlfriend, well it must be good news we are going to meet because the phone neva ring. So that means ih must di get better. So we went to the ICU again—this is the Sunday morning after the Saturday evening when we found him in pain. We went there Sunday morning, we walked in and by the time I saw my son, his hands and his feet were already blue. So when I saw the doctor, all the doctor could say is that he is deteriorating fast. So w asked the question again; what is the problem? So the doctor said it is some sort of infection.”


And a few hours after, Panton’s son was dead. Marisa Cruz has a similar story, except that her baby died a month earlier, on April first. She says that she was also told her baby was doing well, that everything was okay. Until one day when she visited her newborn daughter.


Marisa Cruz

Marisa Cruz, Newborn Died April 1

“We touched my baby and her feet was cold; everything was cold on her already. When the nurse heard that we were complaining that how my baby was cold she came and checked the baby. She said that the baby was under hypothermia. That was the Saturday night. I stayed there until eleven that night. They put her under light so that she would get warm. The Sunday as I went in, as I went in the doctor, the specialist went in and I had to come out. By the time I went inside again, he said that if he did not reach there in time, the nurses would not have noticed that my baby wasn’t breathing well.”


From there things got progressively worse.


Marisa Cruz

“At eleven o’clock when I went to check my baby again, my baby was in a lot of pain, she wasn’t breathing well; she was under the machine already. When I asked several questions to the nurse, one of them, the answer was it’s normal. My baby was in pain, she was turning blue already and they were telling me it is normal for them. She was moving in a funny way. Her eyes went from left to right. I went again and I asked what’s wrong with my child. They said that is normal for all the babies.”


By the next day her daughter was dead. And while the loss of a child is tragic, the situation is somehow worse because there are no answers for these confused, grieving, angry parents.


Harrison Sutherland, Newborn Died May 18th

Harrison Sutherland

“I’m just looking for a deeper investigation in this situation that they had on my baby’s death certificate as prematurity and the doctors told me that my baby died from an infection. And I’m just looking for a deeper investigation okay. One day they told me that my baby needed blood before four o’clock the evening. I went and I got the blood for my baby and by the time I heard my baby died five o’clock the morning, I asked them what happened to the blood. They didn’t even get a chance to give my baby the blood. That’s just what I am looking into and I just want something to come out of it.”


Marisa Cruz

“I really want something done because I’m suffering right now. This is not my first child that the hospital killed; it is the second one. And I want something done because I want to be able to know if I will ever trust the hospital. At this point I don’t even want to step near to that hospital. I had a few allergies break out and the first thing I did was go to a private hospital because Karl Heusner will kill me as well.”


Gilroy Usher Jr.

COLA has decided to lead the charge for answers, and for those responsible to accept the blame for the deaths of the newborns.


Gilroy Usher Jr., Vice President, COLA

“There has been too much self-congratulation and frankly not enough investigation. With nothing determined, the hospital and its C.E.O. are congratulating Tom, Dick and Harry and Janey too. The C.E.O., Doctor Longsworth and Doctor Coye spent at least five minutes of their respective statements congratulating themselves, the ministry, the prime minister, PAHO and others for coming to their aid. Why not save the thanks for when something is actually found. That is not to say that we are not grateful, but we pay you for results not for platitudes.”


Giovanni Brackett

Giovanni Brackett, President, COLA

“This is a medical disaster and it is being treated as just another incident in our view. More needs to be done before one dime is given to K.H.M.H. for new NICU/PICU. We need to hear extensively from the C.E.O. what they will do to make sure that something like this never occurs again. We need to get someone on the record to be held accountable. And it is too early when the investigation has not even began to reach half its way to say that management was not responsible. Somebody needs to be held responsible. And we can’t have a Minister of Health who sits at a head table, thirteen children have died within twenty days or less and then you say nothing. We need to hear and we need to get answers. We need to get answers and we need to get answers now.”


Mike Rudon for News Five.

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1 Response for “COLA and parents of dead babies want answers”

  1. Storm says:

    It was deadly negligence, no doubt. COLA is right, heads must roll, and professional licenses need to be revoked so these same people can’t kill more patients with neglect or ignorance.

    While the hospital identified a bacteria, that easily could have been treated with antibiotics, how does it explain the other 6 baby deaths during the same time period?

    News reporters should be doing what COLA is doing, pursuing the truth until the trail ends.

    I hope COLA organizes some protests so the dead babies will be remembered, at least until there is some measure of justice for them.

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