Bartica woman seeks answers after stillbirth at GPH

-investigation underway

An expectant mother from Bartica, Region Seven, is now contemplating her options after her baby died in her womb while she was a patient at the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPH).

Olive Correia Jacobs, 35, was prepared to deliver what would have been her first child at the Bartica Regional Hospital earlier this month and had been assured by doctors at the hospital that she would be able to do so.

Instead, she was transferred to the GPH, where she was told that her baby had died while still inside of her.

When contacted for a comment on the claims made by Jacobs, the GPH said it is currently investigating it.

In a telephone interview with Stabroek News yesterday, Jacobs explained that as part of her usual clinic schedule she visited the Bartica Regional Hospital on July 5th. At that point she was 39 weeks pregnant and she was told that her cervix was already dilated to 3 cm.

With the theatre at the Bartica hospital not working and Jacobs being deemed a high-risk patient due to her age and the fact that it was her first child, she said she was informed that she had to be transferred to the GPH.

“At 37 weeks I was told my baby was very big, so I asked if a Caesarean-Section was an option but I was told that I would be able to deliver normally. So on the fifth, I was transferred to the GPHC via speedboat when the river was very rough, and we arrived at Parika where an ambulance was waiting to take us to the hospital,” Jacobs said.

 She noted that upon their arrival at the hospital, she was handed over to hospital staff by the midwife who accompanied her from Bartica Regional Hospital.

“I gave my information, they checked my vitals and I was sent to be examined by a doctor who told me that I was 5 cm at that point. I was put into a section just before the delivery room and was attached to a little machine where my baby was being monitored and was found to be doing fine. I took a shower, had something to eat and decided to walk for an hour because I had the strength,” the woman shared.

She went on to say that she had difficulty sleeping that night as a result of the cries coming from other mothers in the room. As a result, she decided to continue walking, since she felt it would have been good for the delivery of her baby.

“During all this time, my tummy was very, very hard and uncomfortable. I was told to relax and get some sleep, which I eventually ended up doing. Early the next morning, I was examined, had my vitals checked and everything. At this time, I was told that I was only 2 cm dilated and I was like what? How is that possible? I was eventually told that everyone who had examined me before was incorrect and I was transferred to the prenatal care section,” Jacobs said.

Later that morning, the woman said she was visited by three doctors, who questioned her and told her that she would be visited by a blood team during the day.

“I was also asked if I suffer from anxiety because they were told I was anxious the night before but I told them I had the strength, there were cries coming from mothers in agonizing pain and I couldn’t sleep, so I decided to walk as I know it would help in my delivery,” she shared.

“It was after 12 midday that day and no one else had visited me or came to check my baby. I eventually saw one of the doctors and I approached him to ask about the blood team that was supposed to come and see me. He told me before the day out they will come, but they never came. I was very uncomfortable with my tummy, the place was hot and the bed was uncomfortable, so I started walking again. I had asked to change beds because the one I was on had a hole and it was causing me pain,” the woman added.

Thereafter, Jacobs said she was given the go ahead by the staff to switch beds and so she moved over with her belongings. She noted, too, that her vitals were checked after 1 pm, she got something to eat and decided to take a second bath.

“I took a second shower as I was feeling extremely hot, I was sweating and was uncomfortable. I started having a fever and began feeling extremely cold but I told myself I would try to see and see if it stops. But I just could not sleep, no doctor came to check on me. I guess it was like about 3 pm, the pain became too much to bear, so I approached a medical personnel and explained how I was feeling. The female doctor from the morning attended to me, did an examination, I was given two Panadol tablets and they confirmed that I had a fever,” she told Stabroek News.

Jacobs said during the examination she was told that she had dilated to 4 cm and a decision was made to clip her water bag and check the baby’s heartbeat. It was at that point she said, that they realized something was wrong.

No heartbeat

“They checked her heartbeat but there was nothing, there was no sound, no beat, nothing. The medical personnel said maybe the machine was not working and I was told to go shower again even in my agonizing pain and high temperature,” she said.

Not long after, the woman said she was informed that they would be moving her to the section she was previously in when she was first admitted to the hospital.

“They checked for the baby’s heart beat on about three different machines then they decided to check on me and then informed me that my baby was dead. My bed was wet, I don’t know if I was peeing, if water was still coming out of my bag. My husband along with a few friends were allowed to see me for a brief moment since no one was allowed in the room to see me,” Jacobs said.

“They (the doctors) left me there. My husband tried getting their attention to get assistance for me but without any success, all the while I was in a soaked bed, my nightwear was soaked, I was a big mess and in so much pain. I asked for a change in bed. Instead, they changed the sheets and I thankfully accepted what I got,” she added.

Stabroek News was told that while the woman pleaded with the doctors to remove the now dead baby via C-Section, she was told that she would have to deliver it vaginally.

“I signed for drips to help in the delivery. I could not read the paper because I was in extreme pain, mentally, physically and emotionally, but I signed it. Even with everything going on, they did not allow my husband to stay with me. I was left there, alone, with a dead baby inside of me,” she related.

Not expecting the situation to get any worse than it already was, Jacobs said the drips came with “terrifying pangs of distress.”

“It was more than normal delivery pains I was experiencing. I thought I was going to die at that stage. They checked me a few times but I was not at 10 cm as yet. I begged for Pethidine painkillers to help me because I knew my baby was already dead and would not be affected. The doctor said he would give me three quarters of the dose but it was a waste of time because I got no relief,” she explained.

“I kept telling them that the baby was coming, that I could not control the force with which it was coming but they ignored my calls for help. I kept crying out as I could feel the baby coming out; I tried to control it but I was scared. Finally, they came to me because I was not stopping and the doctor shouted out that I was fully dilated… I went to the delivery room at 9.50 that night and did not leave until 1 the next morning,” Jacobs added.

Describing her experience inside the delivery room, the woman said it was terrible as several persons had to assist in applying pressure to her stomach and opening her vaginal canal in order for the baby to come out.

Just a plain dead

“They gave me a third degree cut and the baby’s head finally came out but the shoulders were stuck which caused a next set of hard pushing. When the baby finally came out she was 8 lbs, beautiful, fresh, but dead; no life, no sound, no blink, nothing, just a plain dead, beautiful child. My baby was alive inside of me but with the amount of time they took to get that baby out of me, I highly believe, with my everything, that I could have died too,” Jacobs contended.

She noted that though she was discharged from the hospital on July 10th, no one came to check if the stitches she had received for the cut, were healing properly. “Little did I realize that on the Monday my outer stitches were open. I could not physically see it but as I wiped, fresh blood was visible on the tissue… eventually, I had to go to Woodlands to get treatment,” Jacobs said,

Additionally, she expressed concern that on her discharge form, doctors included in her diagnosis that she suffered from an anxiety disorder and had experienced post-partum Sudden Vaginal Discharge (SVD) and intrauterine fetal death (IUFD).

She noted, too, that she had to be seen by a counsellor and a psychiatrist before her discharge.

Regarding her dead baby, Jacobs said she was expected to witness the post-mortem examination on the Wednesday after her release from the hospital but showed up at the mortuary only to be told that will not be conducting an autopsy on the baby’s remains.

“I went back to the hospital the Wednesday to witness the post-mortem but was told that they will not be cutting her because she died as a result of sudden death syndrome,” the woman shared.

Already concerned about the strange cause of death given by the doctors, Jacobs said she had to beg the hospital for some form of certificate saying the baby died. “I asked them for a death certificate and I was told I can’t get one. Eventually, they gave me a white piece of paper with the wrong gender of the baby saying that she died from a heart attack,” she told Stabroek News.

Based on what was shown to this newspaper, the white paper mentioned by the woman was a Medical Certificate of Stillbirth, which listed the cause of death as cardio pulmonary arrest.

At present, Jacobs says she does not know what to do at this stage since she is still home recovering from the infection caused by her unmonitored stitches.

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