Following reports by a 19-year-old security guard, Richina Chelsea Matty, over her deadly misfortune at Victoria Hospital, public concern has been heightened, once again, over the efficiency and adequacy of the nation’s main medical facilities. Matty, who is from Micoud and was seven months pregnant, claims that she was transferred from the Vieux Fort Hospital (housed at the national stadium) to VH on September 25th, 2015 as a result of pregnancy complications. Accompanied by her mother and a nurse from the Vieux Fort Hospital, she was placed in a labour room at VH but says that neither her mother nor the nurse were allowed into the room with her.
She recalls begging for assistance but says that no one came to her aid and she was left to throw up on the hospital floor since no bedpan had been provided. The young woman also discloses that she wet her bed since no one responded to her calls to take her to the bathroom. She further claims that she delivered her baby on her own and heard the baby cry before it was taken by a nurse who cut the umbilical cord. The baby died hours later because, according to Matty, “her lungs were premature.”
The hospital has since called for an investigation into the young woman’s claims of gross negligence.
Horror stories at the island’s hospitals are nothing new. In February of 2014, a woman in Vieux Fort died after giving birth to twins. Family members are still awaiting answers. And the STAR Newspaper wrote in great detail the story of a woman who died in July 2005 at the Soufriere Hospital. Twenty three-year-old Ucilla Isembert, ready to deliver her baby, was rushed to the Soufriere Hospital on the evening of 4th July. Her boyfriend drove her in a two-door Mitsubishi flat van and parked it at the hospital entrance. Relatives related how he pleaded for assistance for his girlfriend who was in extreme pain but nurses refused to help. Isembert then gave birth in the front of the rusty vehicle. Her baby was pronounced dead by the time hospital officials attended. She was then rushed to another hospital, but bled to death en route there.
This week a young woman recounted her own ordeal at Victoria Hospital a few years ago. According to Erica Francis (not her real name) she was almost nine centimetres dilated when she struggled into the labour room in all her pain to alert the nurses to her situation. “I had been admitted to Victoria Hospital after a couple hours of going into labour. My labour progressed rapidly and as the pain intensified I kept alerting the nurses within the ward of my situation,” she told the STAR.
“I am not one to outwardly express emotion, and wasn’t screaming loudly like some of the other women in the ward. I guess this is why they underestimated the extent of the pain I was in. I kept getting off my bed on my own and in all my agony walked out of the ward towards the labour room to find a nurse, because the nurses on ward duty seemed to think I was not ready to go in yet.
“The nurse there kept sending me back to the ward, insisting I was not ready to give birth. I kept bringing my pain to her attention. I knew how I felt, but she completely disregarded my complaints and requests to be admitted to the labour room. This went on for almost an hour, but the thing which angered me the most is that I was never once examined, so her orders were strictly based on her own visual judgment of me.”
Francis explained that she returned to the labour room once more when the pain became excruciating. Finally she was examined by a nurse who was appalled to discover that she was almost nine centimeters dilated and who took her into the delivery room. “When she examined me, there was no time to give me a douche. I had to be induced as I was swiftly approaching ten centimetres. The contractions were not as strong as before and I no longer had a strong urge to push. My child could have been born with a defect due to lack of oxygen or, worse, stillborn due to that nurse’s negligence. I eventually received stitches, because my son got stuck while making his exit and I had to push violently to finally get him out. It was horrible. I am grateful he came out alive and normal after all this!”
“I sympathize with Matty and I am aware that there are others like her out there as well as those like me who had close calls, but thank God we survived as well as our babies,” Francis said. She believes that the time has come for the authorities to place greater emphasis on health care services.