CAL baby scope widens

Copies of documents obtained in the Jamaican Consul’s investigation into the circumstances that led to Shellesha Woodstock giving birth aboard a Cayman Airways flight to Jamaica last month have been delivered to several government agencies.

Robert Hamaty

Honorary Jamaican Consul Robert Hamaty. Photo: File

Honorary Jamaican Consul Robert Hamaty confirmed that the documents were submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kingston, Jamaica.

‘Copies of the documents were also made available to the [Cayman Islands] Office of the Complaints Commissioner, the Cayman Islands Human Rights Committee and His Excellency the Governor Stuart Jack, and an official response is being awaited,’ he said.

The 29-week-pregnant Ms Woodstock went to the Cayman Islands Hospital on 1 October after her water broke. She claims she was advised by a Health Services Authority doctor and nurse that she should travel to Jamaica to have her baby because it was too expensive in Cayman. The doctor gave her a letter approving her to fly.

Although she maintains she always intended to have her baby in the Cayman Islands, based on the doctor’s advice, Ms Woodstock left for Jamaica on the Cayman Airways flight early the next morning. However, she started having contractions and gave birth shortly after take-off.

The press release issued by Mr. Hamaty Thursday brought into question again whether Ms Woodstock had valid health insurance in place at the time or her attending the Cayman Islands Hospital. Although she had a health insurance card from British American Insurance, it is not known if the policy was maintained.

The press release states that one area of concern in the investigation is health insurance coverage in the Cayman Islands ‘especially for our nationals who are low-income earners’.

Ms Woodstock worked as a domestic helper. The Health Insurance Law mandates that her employer effect and maintain the standard health insurance contract on her behalf. The Health Insurance law entitles employers to deduct from the employee’s wages one-half of the cost of health insurance with respect to coverage for the employee.

Mr. Hamaty and the Consulate want to ensure Jamaicans in the community know their rights.

‘The Consulate will embark on bringing more awareness to this issue through the media and the various churches in Grand Cayman,’ the press release stated. ‘The information will emphasize the importance for employees to ensure that their employers have provided the necessary health insurance, and employees are encouraged to be aware of the extent of their coverage.

‘A proactive approach is necessary and everyone should to be armed with the proper information.’

Whether Ms Woodstock had valid health insurance at the time of her giving birth has become more pertinent because her premature baby daughter has a heart condition.

Ms Woodstock said Wednesday that she would travel to Kingston next week with her baby so that the extent of the heart condition can be better ascertained.

Cayman’s standard health insurance contract also covers 30 days of post-natal care with respect of newborn babies of policyholders. Parents have the option of enrolling the child on the health insurance policy without underwriting during that 30-day period. If Ms Woodstock did not have valid health insurance, the child would be subject to underwriting and obtaining a health insurance policy would be difficult if not impossible because of the baby’s pre-existing heart condition.

Cayman’s Health Insurance Commission is investigation the matter. Health Insurance Inspector Wesley Gibson declined to say whether Ms Woodstock had valid health insurance.

‘Whether she had insurance or not, there’s the matter of the investigation, and I wouldn’t be in a position to divulge that information at the moment,’ he said.

In addition to the HIC investigation, Minster of Health Anthony Eden initiated an independent investigation led by two doctors associated with the Pan American Health Organisation on 9 October. Last week, Mr. Eden said the investigation was complete and that he expected to receive a report early this week. To date, however, the media has not been informed about the findings of the report.

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