CAL birth investigation delayed

An independent investigation into the so called ‘CAL birth’ remains unfinished, despite Health Minister Anthony Eden saying almost three weeks ago that the report would be complete within days.

Speaking on the phone from his practice in Jamaica Monday, one of the Pan American Health Organization affiliated doctors undertaking the clinical audit said the investigation is in its final stages and would be completed in the ‘short term’.

Dr. Santosh Kulkarni, a senior lecturer at the University of the West Indies’ Department of Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Child Health said the finished report wouldn’t be far away and would be forwarded to relevant authorities in the Cayman Islands.

At a 1 November Cabinet Press Briefing, Mr. Eden said the research for the investigation had been completed and that he expected to receive a report shortly.

Mr. Kulkarni and Dr. Rudolph Stephens, regional technical director with the Jamaican Ministry of Health, were engaged to conduct the clinical audit into the circumstances that led Jamaican domestic helper Shellesha Woodstock to give birth on a Cayman Airways flight to Kingston, Jamaica, 2 October.

Despite her water having broken, a Health Services Authority doctor signed a letter authorising the 29-weeks-pregnant Ms Woodstock to travel to Jamaica for the birth.

She claims the doctor and a nurse at the Cayman Islands Hospital told her it would be too expensive for her to have her baby in Cayman.

Mr. Eden has said he told the consultants to leave no stone unturned in their clinical audit.

The report’s delay comes amid continuing controversy about the way Cayman’s health system caters to low income expatriate workers that are uninsured, or underinsured on the standard health insurance policy.

On Friday, 9 November, two prematurely born Jamaican babies died at the Cayman Islands Hospital after being denied transfer to specialist neonatal clinics abroad because their mother’s standard insurance contract would not cover the cost of an air ambulance and specialist medical care.

Some regional hospitals had demanded a $500,000 guarantee to transfer the mother and her babies to a level three neonatal intensive care unit.

On Monday, Leader of the Opposition McKeeva Bush inferred the government would have arranged medical treatment for the babies if they had been born to Caymanian parents. He said he had a similar situation with his daughter and no guarantee was required.

‘That’s the part that worries me,’ Mr. Bush said. ‘Whether they’re from Jamaica or the moon or Cayman, we should do everything in the world to save life.

‘Obviously, the government wasn’t willing to sign [a guarantee] or would not sign.

‘This does not spell well for this country,’ he said. ‘This is the second time that because someone was from a certain country, government would not do anything about it.

‘We have these people working in our country and we have to find a way to deal better with it.’

In response, Mr. Eden seemed to suggest that requiring domestic workers to return to their home country to give birth should be considered. That was the way it used to be in Cayman, Mr. Eden said, but he was not sure if it remained in the immigration law or not.

He said the coverage for catastrophic health problems could also be increased, but noted that increased premiums had to be weighed into the equation.

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