A Punta Gorda father, Andy E. Jones, emailed us a letter today, detailing the terrible experience his wife, Cenaida, had when she went to the Punta Gorda Hospital to deliver her baby, who almost died.
It was not only the lack of attention for his wife that Jones complained of, but the apparently lackadaisical attitude of some members of staff, which led to his son almost being strangled with the umbilical cord.
Jones, who says he and his wife are farmers, lives far from the hospital. He had to traverse a river, then the sea, to get to the hospital. He tells us that after leaving his wife at the hospital, he learned from a stranger, who doesn’t work in the hospital, that something was wrong with his baby.
Jones dropped everything and hustled back to the hospital, taking his 2-year-old daughter with him.
“Now I get to the hospital. Something is wrong. Nobody wants to talk to me. I ask anyone passing, do you know anything about my baby and wife. Their answer, it’s only eight-thirty, come back at ten for visiting hours.
“Well, ten comes, and I go see my wife,” Jones explained in his e-mail.
Jones also recounted what his wife told him about her ordeal:
“My wife had to get up and scream down the hall for help. But because they assume she was faking they ignored her. She delivers the baby on her own in bed. She takes a little break. She’s tired after all she just did by herself, what it took three skilled people to help another person do.
“She then gets up [and] looks between her legs. The baby is not moving. She picks him up, gets out of bed, goes into the hall. Now remember, the umbilical cord is still attached to her and to my son but wrapped around his neck. Ok, now they finally come. So now they’re a little excited. After all, my son is not breathing,” writes Jones.
“I took a healthy baby to the hospital and they give me back a vegetable. Now me, a poor farmer, will have to come up with all kinds of money which I don’t have to take care of my son, which the hospital left to strangle himself on his own umbilical cord.”
The PG farmer also wrote the Prime Minister, Hon. Dean Barrow, telling him things that were not mentioned in his letter to the hospital.
“After they brought him back to life, no one thought it was important enough to see if he might have brain damage until I, the father, started questioning them. After I start getting angry, then it was important enough to send him to the Dangriga hospital. When he gets there, he gets a lot worse. He starts vomiting blood. So it was recommended to send him to Belize City by helicopter. But another person in a more critical condition gets his ride,” Jones told the PM.
Jones says that a decision was made to take his son by ambulance to Belize City, but “two miles down the street, the ambulance breaks down. They have to stop a car to call 911 for help to get my baby back to Dangriga, as they have no phone or radio.”
An argument then followed, apparently with the medical authorities in Dangriga, about whether to still take the child to Belize City.
“I haven’t slept well in four days, but my brain is working well enough that I see they want to blame me if he dies. You see, I don’t want them to take him to Belize hospital because it doesn’t make sense. They only have one breathing machine there, which my son needs now, and someone is using it. So in order for him to use it, that person would have to die first or get better real quick. So five-thirty comes, he is getting worse. You should see his little chest fighting to breathe and the blood coming out of his mouth. He’s a fighter. So hours later, they finally call back the helicopter.
“So now he’s in Belize hospital fighting to live. But more than likely, with all the blood he’s vomiting and the brain damage, he won’t make it,” Jones tells the Prime Minister.
We called the Punta Gorda Hospital this Monday afternoon and spoke with Dr. Bhubathi Raju about the story. He told us that indeed, there was such an incident, but “it was not supposed to have happened …someone was supposed to be there.” Dr. Raju said that he has already spoken with the father, Andy Jones, and is investigating the reason why Cenaida had to deliver her child by herself, and he will copy his findings to the Ministry of Health. He mentioned that the hospital was “understaffed,” and said that “nobody wants to go to PG (Punta Gorda) to work.”
Dr. Raju told us that the last he heard this morning, the baby was “slowly recovering.”
Andy Jones’ letter to the Punta Gorda Hospital, and to PM Barrow is published in the letter section of this issue.