Lawyer says health-care system causing distress after woman plunges to death at hospital

Senior staff reporter

Saturday, July 11, 2020

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THE attorney representing the family of Carsha Johnson Sinclair, the woman who died tragically at the National Chest Hospital on Wednesday, is bemoaning the state of the public health-care system, the cracks of which he said have become more apparent amidst the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“Generally, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the entire handling of patient care throughout our health system. Protocols have caused a lot of hardship and also heartache to many families, and some of the stories aren't covered,” Isat Buchanan said, pointing to the death of a pregnant woman in Mandeville, Manchester, recently.

“I just wish that a little more compassion would've been meted out to these persons. What happened to that [pregnant] lady is the reverse of what happened to Jodian [Fearon], just the way how people are dying within the health system is very unfortunate... Although we don't have [police] officers stepping in our necks, we still are abusing our citizens,” the attorney said in a Jamaica Observer interview yesterday.

Johnson Sinclair, a 43-year-old mother of two, reportedly plunged to her death in the wee hours of Wednesday morning after climbing into a laundry chute at the St Andrew hospital.

Her family has lashed out at initial media reports that she had been a COVID-19 patient and had committed suicide, pointing out that she was admitted to the facility the Friday before her death for issues related to a long-standing lung disease, and had been heavily medicated.

The family is also insisting that the hospital was negligent, as Johnson Smith had been left unattended overnight.

This is the second major incident involving the death of a patient at a hospital recently, as there was public outrage at the death of maternity patient, 23-year-old Jodian Fearon, who passed away following delivery, and a musical chairs scenario involving three hospitals, one of them a private facility.

He said, too, that the public relations machinery in the health system “is cute”, but what is needed is access to proper health care.

“That's the aspect of it I'm praying will be fixed by whichever [political] Administration. Give people basic human dignity... It's unacceptable, unforgivable... these are not things we could ever imagine happening to any of our family members... ignored by primary caregivers... the circumstances in which she ended up in a laundry chute, head-first, is unimaginable for someone who survives on oxygen tank, to detach herself from the oxygen which she can't live without,” he said.

The attorney-at-law stressed that a post-mortem must now urgently be carried out.

“This is one more situation where the ball was dropped, so we need it to be properly investigated so that it doesn't happen again... The public is fatigued with the general negligence of the health-care system... a hospital is a place which is to save lives not to take it,” he said.

In the meantime, Buchanan said the family is now in the early stages of talks with the hospital administration, and is cooperating with the police, noting that the preservation of the camera footage will be important to the investigation.

A statement issued on behalf of the family urged against discrimination as a result of misinformation, which may have led the public to believe that members of the family were exposed to COVID-19: “Members of the family respect the efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, and have consistently done their part to adhere to the guidelines to contain the spread of the virus.”

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