By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
& TANYA SMITH-CARTWRIGHT
THE Public Hospitals Authority is investigating all allegations of mistreatment made by maternity patients against staff at Princess Margaret Hospital, PHA managing director Catherine Weech said yesterday.
Mrs Weech has insisted that the organisation does not take such claims lightly, but said management must do its due diligence before putting out public statements on specific claims.
Her comments to The Tribune came amid allegations that one mother who recently gave birth at PMH died in hospital while other maternity patients took to social media over the weekend documenting their “unpleasant” experience at the hospital during and after childbirth amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
One devastated young woman recently described her experience at PMH as a “terrible” ordeal after losing her twin babies. She claims that some nurses there acted very insensitively and discriminatory towards her after the horrific ordeal due to fears that she contracted COVID-19, despite testing negative for the disease.
Another woman complained, on social media, of having to go to PMH at 5am with her sister to change her grandmother’s soiled adult disposable underwear. That same woman alleged her grandmother was unable to feed herself and she had no help in hospital.
“These are the kinds of things that give us all a bad name,” said Ms Weech continuing. “Those are the kinds of allegations and realities, in some instances, that we have to go more forceful at (them) in terms of making sure that the total care of patients are certainly appreciated by the healthcare providers.
“At the end of the day we have to have a zero tolerance when we see situations like that because we are responsible for the care of patients and we shouldn’t be passing that off if that is happening for someone to come in to have to do. Cases like this we have to investigate and challenge management to ensure that they have the necessary oversight to ensure that those things are not happening.”
Other issues cited by patients also included cleanliness concerns and little to no medical attention allegedly provided by medical workers.
When The Tribune contacted PHA managing director on the matter, Mrs Weech said officials are aware of what is being claimed on social media.
“As a matter of fact, we’re monitoring them on Facebook and all of the social media sites and we’re going to be investigating. We’ve started an investigation already,” she told this newspaper.
“But at the moment, we know that the public is joining in and people are saying things and we have an obligation to investigate. We take these things very seriously because it’s not our mission to mistreat our patients.
“But certainly, if someone says something went wrong, we’re on it. We’re investigating.”
Last week, The Tribune reported how a woman was looking for answers after her daughter, who tested positive for COVID-19, died in Princess Margaret Hospital shortly after giving birth.
Karen Dean, who described her 20-year-old daughter as “happy and full of life,” said the young mother had an unpleasant experience during her 10-day stay at PMH.
She claims staff at the hospital did not give her daughter enough attention, given her vulnerable condition.
“I’m looking for answers and I want to know that something has been done... in some way or form as regards... my child,” she told the Tribune.
Some observers have attributed the level of care at PMH to be a result of a strained healthcare system due to surging COVID-19 cases and the fact that many workers are feeling burned out.
Asked about this yesterday, Mrs Weech replied: “Look at it this way. Coronavirus has completely transformed the way we live our lives right now. We are in a crisis when it comes to dealing with something prior to March we had no knowledge of.
“And so, the health system is strained because we’re seeing patients coming up who are positive and we have to treat so the unknown amount how we manage these patients, notwithstanding the fact, that we are providing our healthcare providers with training, with the necessary PPEs, it’s still that whole reality of coronavirus and what it means in terms of life and death.”
Ms Weech added there is anxiety about the ongoing pandemic.
“. . .I think what’s happening right now is that there is a lot of anxiety on behalf of the public and our employees. Coronavirus has put quite a bit of fear in all of us.
“The unknown of being positive is something that is new for us. We know that around the world coronavirus has waged quite a bit of death on families and communities. In the process, as the healthcare provider, we are doing what we can to ensure that we provide care to everybody that comes to us.”
The managing director was asked about concerns of sufficient PPEs for staff. She said there is more than enough to protect healthcare providers in the country.
“We have sufficient PPEs. The government has invested very heavily as well as we also have quite a bit of donations for the PPEs. We seek to ensure that from a management point of view, we manage the distribution of the PPEs to all of our wards and clinics,” she said.
“We have enforced training for the wearing of PPEs in the handling and management of patients. At this stage we have taken on the position that we have to treat everybody as a potential suspect until such time as we know otherwise. That will help to reduce the spread and as well as help to reduce the number of our own employees who are out for extended times, having to be quarantined.”