Jodian Fearon's mom wants answers

Jodian Fearon's mom wants answers

Senior staff reporter

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

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APPROXIMATELY two months after the completion of the autopsy for Jodian Fearon, the first-time mother who died after being denied access to health care at several hospitals in April, her family is yet to receive a copy of the report.

The revelation was made by Fearon's mother Portia Haughton, who has expressed disappointment in the country's health care system and officials' handling of the matter.

“Her autopsy was conducted on April 29 at the University of West Indies pathology unit. Our independent observer Dr Jephthah Ford gave his findings [that] she died of heart failure. I'm aware that the formal autopsy report has been completed. However, I'm yet to receive a copy,” Haughton told the Jamaica Observer.

“Both Dr Ford and my attorney have written to the doctors [Judith] Mowatt and [Althea] Neblett, respectively, to obtain a copy of the report. However, we have not received a response to date. I'm extremely disappointed in the process so far, and it appears that only status and links get things done in Jamaica,” Haughton added.

The woman noted that the death of her daughter has caused insurmountable pain, coupled with the uncertainty of how it occurred “after she was tossed around like a football and died on the cold hospital floor”.

She is demanding answers.

“What is the reason for the delay? I would really like some answers. I'm in pursuit of justice for my daughter and I hope that there will be no cover-up as I'm only seeking the truth,” Haughton said.

In the meantime, the family's attorney Isat Buchanan, in a letter to Dr Neblett, a copy of which the Observer has obtained, said that the family would revert to the Supreme Court for assistance in obtaining the report if a copy was not provided soon.

That letter is dated June 16, 2020.

“It has been communicated to us that the autopsy performed by you on the body of Jodian Fearon has been completed and furnished to several interested parties. No such courtesies [were] extended to the family. As you are well aware, the family paid and had a medical representative present at the autopsy to ensure that the integrity of the procedure remained.

“We hereby request that the family be supplied with a copy of the final report of the autopsy conducted by you, as a death certificate has not been issued, caused by your extended delay in this matter,” the attorney said.

The letter has gone unanswered, according to the attorney.

In a previous letter addressed to Dr Mowatt, executive director at the Institute of Forensic Science and Legal Medicine, dated June 12, 2020, Dr Ford also requested a copy of the autopsy report.

“It remains, in my opinion, that her death was due to progressive heart failure, secondary to cardiomyopathy, secondary to an atrial septal defect, during and after the obstetrical failure of management.

“There is one lesson to be learnt from the post-mortem of George Floyd in the United States, there may be other factors pertaining to the traumatic death of an individual and I have already spoken to them, including the unforgivable knowledge that she died on the ground of the intensive care unit and this may also be consequential,” Ford's letter, a copy of which was provided to the Observer, read.

The physician also noted that he intends to provide answers and interpretations to the Coroner's Court.

“I certainly feel it is important to provide a copy of the items now requested to the family of the late Jodian Fearon and her attorney under confidential cover,” said Ford.

The Observer has learnt that the police have completed the investigation into Fearon's death and have submitted a file to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Fearon, 24, died on April 24 after a journey that saw her travelling across the Corporate Area and being denied access to health care.

She was initially suspected to have COVID-19, but subsequently tested negative for the infectious disease.

According to her sister Shanice Lloyd, who spoke to the Observer days after the tragedy, Fearon arrived at the privately run Andrews Memorial Hospital on April 23 and was being prepared for delivery.

However, she was transferred the following morning to Spanish Town Hospital in St Catherine, after requests for transfers to the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) and Victoria Jubilee Hospital reportedly fell through.

It is alleged that the staff at Andrews Hospital refused to treat her. The hospital has since denied this.

Following the delivery of her baby at Spanish Town Hospital, Fearon was transferred to the UHWI after reportedly developing complications.

She died later that day.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness described the incident as “most upsetting” and said preliminary reports in the public domain indicate that the duty of care owed to Fearon was not executed.

“This is not something that we will, in any way, seek to have hidden, covered up [and] not thoroughly investigated. The full force of the State and all its resources must be placed in ensuring that we get to the bottom of this issue, and those who are responsible must be held to account. There can be no second-guessing this intention,” Holness said at the time.

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