'We need answers!'

Pregnant woman’s death sparks protest in Port Antonio

BY EVERARD OWEN Observer correspondent

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

PORT ANTONIO, Portland — Residents of Snow Hill in Portland yesterday staged a peaceful protest at the Port Antonio Hospital demanding answers as to what led to the death of a pregnant woman, following an emergency surgery at the rural facility on Sunday.

Nikiesha Dunkley, who was eight months pregnant, died at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) in St Andrew where she was airlifted for emergency treatment.

Among the protesters were several of Dunkley's relatives and friends.

Kathy Ann Linton, a cousin of the deceased, told the Jamaica Observer that Dunkley was admitted to the hospital last week Tuesday and underwent surgery on Sunday.

She alleged that no written permission was given for surgery to be done, a claim which a senior health official has since denied.

Linton said she was not clear as to what went wrong.

"When she went to the University Hospital, when dem turn her, blood a fly from all angles. The doctors ah ask why them cut har and har pressure so high," she alleged.

"Dem cyaan give us no answers all now; we need answers!" she demanded.

"Dem sen' her over with one little letter seh dem perform a C (Caesarean) section," she added. "It cyaan go so! We need answers!"

Linton further claimed that the hospital did not inform the family about the baby's death.

"The baby died from Sunday when they took the baby, and when family members went for the basin they said dem cleaning up the baby. Ah somebody from inside a the theatre room have to tell somebody that the baby dead," she alleged.

Diana Allen, another relative, alleged that the hospital administrators informed her that Dunkley died as a result of pre eclampsia, which results from severely high blood pressure.

She said that the family intends to pursue legal action against the hospital.

Yesterday, Carmen Johnson, acting parish manager for the Portland Health Services, confirmed that Dunkley was admitted at the Port Antonio Hospital on Tuesday and surgery was performed on Sunday.

She explained that the complaints by the relatives have been documented and that the matter will be reviewed.

"We have informed our region and the regional person will now have to take the complaint and go through the docket for review," she said, adding that the region will take the matter to the Ministry of Health.

An autopsy, she said, will have to be done by the UHWI and this has been communicated to the relatives.

"They can have someone to observe the autopsy on their behalf to see to their best interest," she said.

Johnson also said that there was no truth to claims that surgery was done without the relative's permission."We never go ahead with anything unless forms are signed because that is the ministry's policy," she said.




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