Patient complaints at Victoria Jubilee being investigated
A Jamaica Observer story alleging misconduct on the part of health practitioners at the Victoria Jubilee Hospital (VJH) in downtown Kingston has prompted Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson to order an investigation into operational procedures at the institution.
Headlined "Mothers vow never to return to Victoria Jubilee after claims of inhumane treatment" and published on Sunday, the story highlights the plight of three women who allege abuse and mistreatment at the hands of doctors and nurses.
In a release from the Ministry of Health yesterday, Dr Ferguson described the allegations of unprofessional conduct as "serious".
"These allegations are serious, especially coming from persons who would be in a very vulnerable position and almost completely dependent on the health staff of the VJH," the health minister said. "I have asked for an immediate investigation on the ground, especially given our renewed focus on customer service."
The release also said that through its Clients' Complaint Mechanism, the ministry has received only one written complaint regarding the treatment of a patient at the VJH. The statement said the complaint is currently being investigated.
The health minister urged people to make written complaints to the ministry and the region if they are dissatisfied with the level of service received at any health facility. He went on to say that cases will be fully investigated and the appropriate action taken, while ensuring cases are handled "in a highly confidential manner".
A news release was also issued by the South East Regional Health Authority, assuring the public that appropriate action would be taken and that the investigation had started.
"We have begun an investigation into the matter. We take these types of allegations very seriously as it contravenes the standard operating procedures at VJH," said Dr Andrei Cooke, acting board chairman of SERHA. "We want to assure the public that SERHA takes a zero-tolerance approach towards unprofessional conduct amongst staff and so appropriate action will be taken if anyone is found to be in breach.
"We remain committed to our mission which values the sanctity of life and places the highest priority on treating every woman with dignity during her birthing experience," Dr Cooke continued.
The story brought to the fore the experiences of the three women who declared they would never give birth at the VJH again. One woman was so severely affected that she became suicidal and had to seek professional counselling after she claimed she was told by the doctor in attendance that she was the reason her child died, as she was too fat and lazy to push out the baby.