For several weeks late last year the hashtag ‘deadbabyscandal’ was splashed all over social media. At the time I was studiously avoiding any news or public opinion on the topic because I was working in the midst of the neonatal department at one of the hospitals involved. I was already getting a lot of emotional backlash at work from my superiors (it having trickled down from the public) – I didn’t need it firsthand.
The first time I looked up any information at all on this topic was when one of my fellow intern/blogger (barefootmeds, she’s awesome. Go say hi) asked for details, which I will share here. Newspaper articles, because now that I work for the government I’m legally obligated to keep their secrets (or some shit like that).
This is how it started: Four Months, Eight Babies Dead.
And then it got worse: Another Baby Dies at Cornwall Regional.
And then someone said something they shouldn’t have: Ferguson Sorry for ‘Not Real Babies’ Comment.
And it only continued to escalate: Backlash Over Dead Baby Scandal because babies and conspiracy theories are a social minefield.
Here is a handy timeline of the hospitals’ responses.
To which I have only the following to add (as a soldier working on the front-line, whose opinion the crowd back home rarely ever wants to hear).
- The death of a baby is and will always be a tragedy. It is a horrible, horrible thing.
- An approach that was more solution oriented rather than blame oriented would have been infinitely preferable – and this was the approach taken by our Head of Dept and other consultants. Contrast the approach taken by politicians.
- Outbreaks happen a lot, especially in critical care areas, and largely because we have an imperfect system that is overburdened and understaffed.
It is a sad truth of our society that change is only galvanized by conflict. That the things which are broken are never addressed until something terrible happens, and even then we can expect a patchwork job at best.
The nine day wonder that this tragedy was paraded as has created some minor changes, yes, but the over-extended structure of our health care system still stands poised to collapse under the pressure. As our politicians preen and pontificate in preparation for the upcoming elections, this tragedy becomes nothing more than mud to be flung and then swept under the rug. When will we forget the curry goat/Red Stripe and the dancehall gatherings masquerading as political rallies and remember what really matters?
The same people who pile up in the Accident and Emergency Department demanding shorter waiting times and more bed space from the hospital staff (who have no say in the matter) neglect to hold accountable the people with the power to actually effect change. On election day they do the same thing they have always done; at the rallies they cheer and stomp and revere, ask no hard questions, make no demands. They they get shot or get sick and they get upset at us in the public system for not having the drugs they need in stock, for not having the right equipment to save their lives.
Jamaican people are the ones swatting violently at the mosquito while sinking knee-deep, waist-deep, neck-deep in quicksand. But don’ worry, mosquito soon stop bite you.