Insurance cited in deaths

Premature twins died Friday

Prematurely born Jamaican twins that died at the Cayman Islands Hospital over the weekend could not be sent off-island for the medical care they required because their mother was under-insured.

Robert Hamaty

Jamaican Consul Robert Hamaty. Photo: File

The 1.2 pound babies were born after only 24 weeks of pregnancy in the early hours of Wednesday, 7 November. They passed away Friday, despite the efforts of Health Services Authority health professionals and private practice doctors.

In a statement the HSA said efforts to transfer the mother and babies to facilities in the US, the Bahamas and Jamaica were unsuccessful because the parents’ health insurance could not cover the exceedingly high cost of transport and care required because of the extreme prematurity of the infants.

The hospital said its Level 1 neonatal intensive care unit does not have the staff or equipment to deal with premature babies for any longer than a very short time.

Generally, the hospital tries to transfer mothers that are about to give birth to pre-term babies to overseas facilities, explained Public Relations Officer Caswell Walford. If a transfer is not possible before birth, the HSA tries to arrange a transfer to a level 3 neonatal facility immediately after birth, he added.

It is understood the woman had the standard insurance policy, which only covers up to $25,000 per incident of care.

Jamaican Consul Robert Hamaty said hospitals in the US and the Bahamas had asked for a surety in the region of $500,000 because of the mother’s limited insurance, but the consul did not have that kind of money.

Two hospitals in Jamaica were sympathetic to the plight of the twins, Mr. Hamaty said, but did not have ventilators available.

‘The Jamaican Consulate office is deeply saddened to hear the news of the deaths of the premature twins,’ the consulate said in a statement.

‘Our office contacted hospitals in Jamaica as soon as we were made aware of the premature births. Unfortunately all ventilators in Jamaica were already in use,’ read the statement.

‘We were assured that the confirmation would be given as soon as the ventilators were available to accommodate the babies. Although we had no guaranteed time it was our hope that eventually the babies would have been able to obtain the required specialised care.

‘We extend our most sincere condolences to the family and our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time,’ it said.

The deaths come only days after Jamaican consul Robert Hamaty expressed concerns about insurance coverage for low paid Jamaicans residing in the Cayman Islands.

Mr. Hamaty’s comments came as the Jamaican Consulate delivered documents to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kingston, Jamaica, the office of the Cayman Islands Complaints Commissioner and Governor Stuart Jack arising from an investigation into the circumstances that led to Shellesha Woodstock giving birth aboard a Cayman Airways flight to Jamaica last month.

Ms Woodstock, a Jamaican domestic helper, claims she was advised by an HSA doctor and nurse to travel to Jamaica to have her baby because it would be too expensive in Cayman, despite her water having already broken.

On Tuesday, Mr. Hamaty said the health insurance system in Cayman is failing low income earning Jamaicans.

‘It’s a major concern. It’s almost a no-win situation,’ he said.

‘How do you ask a domestic helper category employee and employer to carry an insurance policy that is $700 per month? Their salary structure makes it unaffordable.

‘We don’t have socialised medicine here, so what is the answer? Somebody has to come up with an answer.’

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