NATIONAL OUTRAGE

Outrage and calls for justice reverberated among Jamaicans all day after a 23-year-old, Jodiann Fearon, died hours after giving birth on Friday, April 24.

Relatives of the deceased claim that discrimination in the island’s health sector may have contributed to the demise.

Fearon’s baby is in hospital in stable condition.

Reports are that Fearon registered at Andrews Memorial Hospital in St. Andrew to have her baby.

She was displaying flu-like symptoms, and so medical personnel suspected that she may have had the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Andrews Memorial reportedly said it lacked the equipment to treat Fearon, especially considering the flu-like symptoms.

Attempts were made to have the then pregnant woman transferred to two other hospitals in the Corporate Area, but neither of them accepted her. Those facilities are the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) and Victoria Jubilee.

Victoria Jubilee said it did not have enough beds to accommodate Fearon, the bereaved family said.

The family explained that Spanish Town Hospital eventually accepted Fearon, and she had her baby there. The hospital also reportedly spent some time preparing an area for Fearon to be accommodated, considering that she was suspected of having COVID-19.

After giving birth at Spanish Town Hospital, Fearon was transferred to the UHWI, which previously said she could not be accommodated. She died there.

Minister of Health Dr. Christopher Tufton, as well as Prime Minister Andrew Holness, expressed sympathy to the family, adding that a probe has been launched into the incident.

“No person should ever be denied access to healthcare,” Dr. Tufton declared.

Prime Minister Holness said: “The entire nation is rightfully disturbed, alarmed and saddened by the reports in the media so far. The Government of Jamaica will offer all necessary support to the family at this time…

“We are aware that the COVID-19 epidemic is placing additional strain on our resources and increasingly complicating our response systems and daily lives. However, as a people, we must never allow the epidemic to cause us to lose sight of our humanity,” the prime minister added.

Opposition Spokesman on Health, Dr. Morais Guy, also expressed sympathy, as well as concern that Fearon was turned away from the hospitals purportedly due to a fever. “Whilst there is fear in the hospital staff about COVID-19, we cannot support that move [to turn the pregnant woman away],” he added.

Meanwhile, a test done to ascertain whether Fearon had COVID-19 has returned a Negative result.

That tragic incident has amplified concerns about whether the island’s hospitals are prepared to handle cases of pregnant women suspected of having COVID-19.

Another pregnant woman, who lives in Clarendon, last week wrote a letter to The Beacon, complaining about the alleged discrimination she faced at Map Pen Hospital because she was suspected of having COVID-19. Read her letter HERE.


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