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State Slackness

Gov't attorneys snub suit filed by mom whose baby was breast-fed by mentally ill HIV-positive woman

BY PAUL HENRY Co-ordinator - Crime/Court Desk henryp@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, May 30, 2014    

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ATTORNEYS for the State are yet to enter into mediation with the mother whose newborn was breastfed by a mentally ill woman with HIV/AIDS at the Victoria Jubilee Hospital nursery in September 2011.

As a result, the frustrated mother will today file in the Supreme Court an application to dispense with mediation of the matter.

Should the court do away with the order for mediation, the woman's attorney, Chukwuemeka Cameron, will file for summary judgement against the defendants named in a lawsuit filed by the mother following the breastfeeding incident at the hospital.

What's ironic about the situation, Cameron told the Jamaica Observer yesterday, is that the defendants in the suit previously agreed to the matter being mediated.

The lawyer complained that there have been several attempts by him to set up mediation dates, but to no avail. He said that a date was finally set but the lawyers for the defendants didn't turn up.

The South East Regional Health Authority, Victoria Jubilee Hospital, and the attorney general are defendants in the case.

The breastfeeding incident occurred on September 3, 2011 after the mentally ill woman, who was at the hospital to deliver her own child, made her way into the nursery and proceeded to breastfed the baby.

A nurse on the ward intervened in the matter and the baby was taken from the woman.

The baby was treated with antiretroviral drugs and has not been infected with HIV.

The issue with the mediation sums up the treatment of the mother since she decided to file suit in the matter.

After the incident, the woman wrote several letters to the South East Regional Health Authority, Victoria Jubilee Hospital, and the Ministry of Health trying to get the medical records of her baby, but to no avail.

It took Cameron going through the courts to get an order for the release of the medical records to the family.

The court declared at the time that, "in the circumstances", the applicant is entitled to access his medical records "in accordance to his right to protection of life" as guaranteed by Section 13 (3) of the Constitution.

The hospital has, since the incident, implemented procedural security changes.

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