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Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Childbirth death of 22-year-old poses many questions
Stabroek News
Jemelia Hodge

Family members are contending that negligence contributed to the death of a 22-year-old Sisters Village woman while she was giving birth at the West Demerara Regional Hospital early Friday morning.

Jemelia Hodge of Sisters Village, West Bank Demerara, died at 4:30 am on Friday. The baby, a girl, survived. Her birth weight was 8 pounds. Hodge was also the mother of a three-year-old girl.

Meanwhile, Medical Sup- erintendent at the hospital, Ronald Aaron, said there was a procedure to be followed and every maternal death "has to be investigated." He said a report was then submitted to the Ministry of Health.

When asked about claims by villagers that the hospital's theatre was often non-functional, Aaron responded that such a matter was better directed to the Ministry of Health.

Rosy Simmons, Hodge's mother-in-law, told this newspaper in Sisters Village that Cheryl Jones, Hodge's mother, took the pregnant woman to the hospital the Thursday evening. Then her husband visited her later in the night at about 11 pm and everything was alright.

A family member who works at the hospital, this newspaper was told, went to see Hodge the Friday morning and after some vacillation by the nurses was told that Hodge had experienced complications during childbirth and died due to hemorrhaging and she had also caught a fit.

The family member who works at the hospital was not around when Stabroek News visited the village. This person, according to another relative, was told by cleaners and other hospital employees that Hodge had been left unattended. And she was also being told "you ain't ready yet (for delivery)."

Simmons, a mother of five, said that being left unattended could have caused Hodge's death because "all you want to do is get rid of that pain. She wouldn't a know how to use that pain" - when to push and when not to.

According to the results of the autopsy carried out the same Friday that Hodge died, laceration of the cervix and uterus was what caused death. Hypovolemic shock was given as the condition leading up to death. According to an on-line medical encyclopedia, hypovolemic shock would come about when approximately 1/5th or more of the normal blood volume is lost. The normal amount of blood in an adult is about 5 litres (a little over one gallon).

The relative who works at the hospital was also told that by the time the resident doctor was called in, Hodge was already far gone.

Further, persons said that the doctor responsible for the Maternity Ward usually got upset whenever other doctors are called to deal with her patients, and this would have led to the reluctance by the nurses in seeking help. However, relatives said that one of the nurses on duty at the time was a Staff Nurse/Midwife.

Meanwhile, one woman recalled that her sister died in 2002 at the same West Demerara hospital while giving birth and another woman said that her neighbour also passed away there during childbirth.

This newspaper was also reliably informed of an incident when a pregnant woman was taken to the hospital one night and cleaners had to direct the woman to the nurses who were inside a room with the door closed.

After knocking on the door, the nurses looked out and told the woman escorting the pregnant woman "she ain't ready yet."

The woman then insisted that she was not going to remove until the pregnant woman was checked and the nurses then obliged.