Eden announces CAL birth investigation

Health Minister Anthony Eden announced a full independent investigation into the handling of the Shellesha Woodstock case Monday, after returning from a conference in Washington.

The announcement comes after the Jamaican Consulate and the Health Insurance Commission both launched their own investigations into the matter.

The HSA also conducted its own investigation into the handling of the case last week, finding that all protocols had been followed.

‘Much has been said about the Health Services Authority’s role in this situation,’ Mr. Eden said in a statement.

‘It is understandable that there is a great deal of concern about the manner in which Ms. Woodstock delivered her baby. I assure the public that I take this matter very seriously, and I am requiring a full investigation into the matter, using external, independent sources.’

Mr. Eden pledged to keep the public fully informed of the facts surrounding the case.

Ms Woodstock gave birth on board a Cayman Airways flight 2 October after her water broke early the previous morning.

She claims she travelled to Jamaica after a nurse and doctor at George Town Hospital told her it was too expensive for her to have her baby in Cayman.

The HSA has denied this account, saying Ms Woodstock and her partner, Laflin Clarke, choose to travel off island to deliver the baby and requested a medical certificate stating it was safe for her to travel.

Defending the decision to allow Ms Woodstock to travel, the HSA has said that membrane rupture in early pregnancy is not a contraindication to travel and that Ms Woodstock did not travel on 1 October, as agreed.

But last week two obstetricians took issue with this assessment, expressing shock the 19-year-old – who was 29 and a half weeks pregnant – was allowed to travel after her water had broken.

In his statement, Mr. Eden extended best wishes to Ms Woodstock and her family, saying he is pleased to hear that mother and baby Latiesha are doing fine.

Mr. Eden also praised Cayman Airways staff for what he said was a tremendous response.

The story has generated controversy in both Cayman and Jamaica.

On Saturday the Jamaica Gleaner published a story under the headline ‘Jamaican woman in Labour kicked out of Cayman’. It followed up on Monday with a response from the HSA.

Here, the story has generated heated debate on talk radio.

Mr. Eden has been in Washington attending the Caucus for Caribbean Ministers of Health, followed by a meeting of the Pan American Health Organisation.