Let Jodian Fearon's case be a watershed moment

Letters to the Editor

Let Jodian Fearon's case be a watershed moment

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

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Dear Editor,
I am sure that most Jamaicans would agree with me when I say that enough is enough!

We have heard far too many stories of our poor and insensitive treatment of patients at hospitals. We can't continue to sit idly by and do nothing.

This kind of behaviour by our doctors and nurses, wherein they are unsympathetic and inhumane in the discharge of their duties, must stop now.

On top of that, they appear to be unmoved by the hurt and pain that result from their unprofessional conduct, and the cries for justice have seemingly gone unheard. It's as if some have become desensitised and have suppressed their humanity — maybe as a way of coping with their jobs.

The treatment of Jodian Fearon and her subsequent death is just the latest in a litany of cases of poor service from our public medical facilities. Are they, by their behaviour in this case, inadvertently justifying the actions of taxi drivers in refusing to transport nurses? If they, as medical professionals, are panicking and scampering like headless chickens in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, what do they expect the rest of the population to do? Are they, by their actions, telling us that they had no personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect themselves and offer Jodian assistance?

I bet that if a media house were to initiate a response page for Jamaicans to submit their experience with our hospitals they would not have enough pages on which to record it. I have had my own experience when I took my baby daughter to the emergency room of a Corporate Area hospital one night. The staff acted with no urgency at all in my case — and, from what I observed, in no one else's case either.

Let us make Jodian's death count for something and allow it to spring us into action and bring about change. As such I am proposing the following:
1) Establish a complaint body for patients to get redress resulting from neglect and bad treatment, similar to what INDECOM is for the police.

2) Make hospitals accountable to an oversight body to ensure that they are living up to their mandate. Quality-care surveys must be filled out by patients and submitted to this body to inform its assessment, and the oversight body should do spot checks.

3) Have a dedicated health tax that goes directly to health care and is not placed in the consolidated fund. This will help to better equip our hospitals to provide quality care.

4) Include emotional intelligence and stress management in the curriculum for people studying to work in the medical field.

Additionally, have occasional stress management training for medical staff, particularly those in the emergency department, to help them cope with the rigours of operating in our abnormally violent society.

5) Provide occasional customer service training to hospital personnel. This should include refresher instructions in emotional intelligence.

Let's make some real concrete effort to address the problem and make a change.

Jean-Ann Bartley

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