The family of Jennifer Gill, the woman who died on Monday evening at the Linden Hospital Complex (LHC) after delivering her third child, are upset over the treatment meted out to them by the hospital administration over the last few days.
According to Dr. Patrick Challender, a relative of the woman who flew in to witness the post- mortem examination, the family has been forced to deal with poor communication and evasive hospital officials over the last few days.
Stabroek News understands that the drama unfolded last Friday when Dr. Challender and five other relatives visited the LHC in hopes of meeting with hospital officials to obtain a clear understanding of the circumstances that led to Gill’s death.
The visit, he said, turned into a “grand runaround” since they were sent in several different directions looking for senior officials. After sometime, he was able to contact the hospital’s Medical Superintendent Dr. Romeeza McDonald via telephone and request a meeting.
“I called her and told her we would like to meet at a time and place of her choosing to discuss Jennifer’s death; she was a reluctant at first but agreed to meet with us an hour later. It was then she told me about the relatives’ refusal to have the post mortem done,” he told Stabroek News.
As reported by Stabroek News, relatives were awaiting Dr. Challender’s arrival before they went ahead with the post-mortem exanimation.
According to Dr. Challender, relatives received a phone call on Wednesday and were told that they had to go to the hospital’s mortuary to identify the woman’s remains since a team from Georgetown had travelled to Linden to conduct the post-mortem examination the same day.
“Her fiancé and her daughter went over and were told that they had to identify the body because the pathologists were preparing to cut the body. However, after they saw the body they told the doctors that they did not want to cut her anymore because of how bad she had looked. They had no prior knowledge of the examination being done on that day and I explained to her that the family is still grieving and that more consideration and empathy”, should be shown, the relative explained.
“If they did not understand someone should have taken the time to explain to them. Someone should have taken into consideration that these people are still shocked by her sudden death and take the time to explain the reason for the post mortem. These people were called out just hours before the examination was expected to be done, they were not informed of this plan before receiving that phone call. They should not have been placed in such a situation where they were expected to make a split-second decision; that is just poor on the hospital’s part,” he added.
Dr. Challender told Stabroek News that after going over this with the Medical Superintendent, he was confident that the matter would have been resolved. This proved not to be so as he later received a phone call from the woman informing him of the hospital’s policy not to use the ambulance to transport a body to Georgetown when a post-mortem was already called for at the LHC.
This, resulted in the family having to expend $70,000 to have the body transported to and from Linden to do the examination, which was done yesterday.
However, according to the man, the money was a small issue when compared to the fact that the post mortem was almost postponed to a later date as a result of the hospital’s failure to produce Gill’s medical chart and her uterus.
“We left Linden at 3 am and arrived in town at 6 am; when we met with the pathologist, he asked for her medical chart and I didn’t know what he was talking about because she (Dr. McDonald) had only said that we are expected to be at the GPHC for a certain time. At this point, we didn’t know what to do or who to call because of everything that had happened up to that point,” the man said.
It was at that point that contact was made with Dr. McDonald who, according to the man, said she was five minutes away. This five minutes he said, turned into 45 minutes, which almost resulted in the examination being postponed.
“When I spoke to her, all she said was that it didn’t matter because we weren’t allowed to have the chart either way,” the man said.
If this was not enough, Dr. Challender said the family was surprised to hear the pathologist say that the hospital did not include the woman’s uterus, which had been removed by doctors at the LHC in an attempt to stop the bleeding.
“We asked her about the uterus but she didn’t give us any explanation. She went outside and came back 15 minutes later with the specimen in a bottle and gave it to the pathologist. I don’t think it was a case where she could say she forgot it in Linden and someone brought it behind her because it was too fast. But whatever the case it ran the risk having the results of the post mortem being inconclusive,” he lamented.
Sharing the results of the post-mortem report with this newspaper, Dr. Challender said, based on the report, Gill died from multiple organ failure as a result of excessive bleeding. This, he said, was compounded by fluid in her lungs, swelling of the brain and liver and other parts of the body.
Stabroek News understands that the family is also upset over what they say is the administration’s lack of empathy as they continue to be evasive. We have not received any apologies or condolences, instead we have been met with dismissive and evasive behaviour from the executives of the hospital,” Dr. Challender said.
“The CEO went to the media on several occasions but is yet to come to us. We may not accept what you are saying but come to us … We only want to know what happened to Jennifer while she was under your care,” he added.
When asked if the family will consider any action against the hospital, Dr. Challender said the family’s focus at this time is to lay their relative to rest.
“We are doing what we can to put her to rest and move on from here,” he added.
Gill died at the LHC last Monday evening after delivering a 10-pound baby boy naturally on Sunday evening.
A relative told this newspaper that considering Gill’s age and the baby’s weight, her pregnancy was considered a high-risk one and, therefore, she had been expected to deliver the baby via C-Section.
However, according to the relative, this did not happen as they were told she had delivered naturally.
It was at that point, the relative said, that the troubles began as Gill, who also had two other children, reportedly began to bleed, and she was rushed into the operating theatre just around midnight. Gill’s condition reportedly continued to deteriorate as the hours passed and she continued to bleed.
This newspaper understands that family members were allowed to see Gill, who had been transferred to the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital, just after 3 pm on Monday.
However, news of Gill’s demise was communicated to the family just around 8 pm on Monday evening.
It has been nine years since LHC recorded a maternal death.