Painful loss

Painful loss

Cruise ship crew member suffers miscarriage hours before vessel's arrival

Senior staff reporter

Thursday, May 21, 2020

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Amidst the joy felt by Jamaican crew members as Royal Caribbean Cruise Line's Adventure of the Seas docked in Falmouth on Tuesday, one of their colleagues has been left broken.

The woman, who did not want to be identified when she spoke to the Jamaica Observer yesterday, confirmed that she suffered a miscarriage hours before the ship arrived at the port.

She was 11 weeks pregnant.

Her employers, she said, did all that they could to prevent the tragedy, but in the end it wasn't enough.

Yesterday, she was raw with emotion as she briefly recounted her ordeal from a bed at Cornwall Regional Hospital in St James. She had spent much of the day crying. In fact, the tears only stopped when she slept.

She told the Observer that she began feeling discomfort on Sunday, a day before the ship was initially expected to dock in Falmouth.

This, she said, continued into Monday before the discomfort turned into excruciating pain. It continued for some time, she said, before spotting began — a sign for any expectant mother that something could be wrong.

An alarm was raised and the ship's management came to her assistance.

“They did all they could. They were excellent with me. They did all they could. But it was just difficult to do certain things on-board. When they see that it was getting very bad they tried their best to get me to Miami, but they just couldn't get me there. They did do their part. The option was to get me to Miami because the Government wasn't giving them the opportunity to come in. So the best option was Miami on a helicopter,” she explained.

The single mother of two said while preparations were being made to transport her to the United States, news came that the Jamaican Government had caught wind of the situation and decided on a Jamaica Defence Force evacuation operation.

“They decided to send one (helicopter) instead, and afterwards we hear that he (prime minister) decided to let in the ship,” she said.

The helicopter never came.

On Monday, the Observer first reported that it was an expectant mother who had suffered a medical emergency and was awaiting evacuation from the ship.

The vessel's captain had alerted crew that a colleague had been encountering difficulties.

“We do have a medical emergency on-board. We will need to evacuate one crew member. The evacuation will be carried out by helicopter and we might turn the ship towards the Jamaican coast in order to get in the reach of the helicopter. I'm not sure that the evacuation will take place tonight. Normally they don't fly at night, but we are waiting for confirmation,” the ship's captain is heard stating in audio obtained by the Observer.

The ship had been in Haitian waters awaiting permission from the Jamaican Government to enter the country's territorial waters as it tried to repatriate the woman and more than 1,000 of her colleagues who had been stranded on the high seas for weeks after the country's borders were ordered closed to incoming passenger traffic on March 24 amid the global spread of the novel coronavirus.

The green light came in the midst of her distress.

“They said it didn't make sense again for the helicopter to come,” she said, adding that she had lost a lot of blood.

“But they did all that they could. So it was just up to the Government, you know,” she added.

The ship's medical team, which she described as “very good” attended to her until the ship docked at approximately 12:30 pm on Tuesday.

At that time, the Observer inquired about the status of the woman and was told by Errol Greene, regional director of the Western Regional Health Authority, that she was being looked after by Cornwall Regional Hospital's senior medical officer and a matron at the pier. An ambulance had also arrived at the location.

At last evening's Ministry of Health and Wellness virtual press briefing, Chief Medical Officer Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie said she could not provide details on the status of the woman.

“The particulars of the case are not available for discussion at this time,” she said.

At the same time, Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton noted that patient confidentiality does not allow for any disclosure on a patient unless there is written consent.

The issue concerning the repatriation of the crew members came to the fore last week when the parliamentary Opposition questioned the preparedness of the Government for handling the return of the group.

Days later, Dr Tufton and Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang said they had no knowledge of the development.

This was followed by a statement by Prime Minister Andrew Holness on Sunday — as reports circulated that the ship would dock on Monday — that if the ship entered Jamaican waters without first receiving clearance it would not be in the spirit of the good relations Jamaica has had with Royal Caribbean over the years.

Late Monday, he announced that the ship's captain had been given permission to dock.

While speaking at Monday's virtual press briefing from Jamaica House in St Andrew, the prime minister said the Government had been in dialogue with Royal Caribbean since April 21 about repatriating the 1,044 Jamaicans who were spread across several of the cruise line's vessels.

He said since that time the parties had been exchanging communication about how and when the process would be done.

Holness said although preparations were being made, because negotiations were still ongoing, the Government could not divulge the information to the public.

He said that while the position taken to hold the information was a risk to the Government, and created opportunities for individuals seeking relevance to create mischief and exploit a crisis for political gain, it kept Cabinet members focused on the task at hand.

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