Taking center stage this morning were two fathers and one heartbroken mother whose babies are among the dead. Harrison Sutherland, father of baby Imari Sutherland, pleaded for answers.
Harrison Sutherland – Father of baby Imari Sutherland:
I’m just looking for a deeper investigation in this situation that they had on my baby’s Death Certificate as pre-maturity. The doctors told me that my baby died from an infection. I’m just looking for a deeper investigation. They told me that my baby needed blood before four o’clock in the evening, and I went and I got the blood for my baby. By the time I heard my baby died five o’clock in the morning, they didn’t ask him what happened to the blood. They didn’t even get a chance to give my baby the blood. That’s just what I’m looking into and I just want something to come out of it.
Steven Panton told of his gut-wrenching experience at today’s press conference, recalling being told that his premature baby boy was “steadily improving” to the point that he could be breastfed, only to suddenly deteriorate and die. At the meeting with families called shortly before the May 22 press conference organized by the hospital, Mr Panton says he got the feeling that the hospital wasn’t sincere in finding out what went wrong.
Steven Panton – Father:
I’m still not sure the motive behind the meeting before the Press Conference. I remember the day of the Press Conference I got a call 1:20, telling me that if I would be able to make it to a meeting 1:30, because they’re going to have a Press Conference. I didn’t make it 1:30 but I still made it there. Basically in the meeting they asked us a lot of questions. They said that they wanted to hear from us what was happening, because they were not present there. After we told them what had happened, basically it just seemed to me as if they wanted to know how to present themselves at the Press Conference, because before I left I asked a question to them. I said, “Is this meeting something for you guys to build arguments to give to the press, or do you guys really sincerely want to do something about the situation?” Well you know their answer was that they were sincere, but we’re just seeing right now how sincere they really are.
One of the first mothers to come forward, Marissa Cruz, told of the hospital’s response to being directly confronted with allegations of negligence for not stopping the spread of Enterobacter cloacae inside the NICU.
Marissa Cruz – Mother;
They actually told us that they were going to call us back by Thursday when the investigation will start. A funny thing is that when I asked them a question if they knew about the bacteria in the Hospital, one of them told me that they were not aware. But I told them, Yes there were a few doctors that were aware about this bacteria when my child died, because when she died a week after one of the mothers told me that they knew how my child died. It was because of a bacteria that a specialist told her that there was an infection in the NICU. So when I told the Board of Directors that information, I asked them who should be held accountable. They say they were not aware who. I told them to me it’s both of them, the doctors as well as the Directors. The doctors because they knew there was some bacteria in there, and they could have come forward to the Directors and let them know, to do something about it, and the Directors as well. Because since March babies were dying before May, and if they were aware of this they should have done something as well. They should have come down to the doctors and asked what is happening down there, but no-one did anything. When I started asking them these questions, at the end of the meeting when the media came in, Sheena Garnett was actually telling me that it’s best that I don’t stay for the Press Conference because i can put the whole thing in jeopardy.
The families are considering their legal options and today COLA made an appeal for legal assistance for a possible class action suit