RIP Jodian Fearon

As news broke of the circumstances behind the death of the young pregnant woman, Jodian Fearon; Jamaicans were bothered that one of its own could be treated in this manner. Only days earlier, the Government of Jamaica had rolled out the red carpet for a citizen of Turks and Caicos Islands seeking health care treatment on our shores. While delivering the well-needed care, front line workers and health care practitioners were forced to quarantine as news broke that the patient had COVID-19. That is the crux of the matter for many Jamaicans, how did its own young and bright future become pass-round donkey in a health care system not even stressed by Covid-19 demands?

Jamaicans may now be in the know as it relates to the details. Jodian was admitted to Andrews Memorial Hospital; she was further transferred to the Spanish Town Hospital after University Hospital of the West Indies and Victoria Jubilee Hospital refused to admit her in their care. She delivered her baby in St. Catherine and was rushed to UHWI, where she later died. The damning details in between those stops will now be contested in the court of law as Jodian Fearon’s family seeks justice.

The Government of Jamaica, led by Andrew Holness, has confirmed that the hospitals did follow protocol. This was a grand missed opportunity for the Jamaican Government to choose the side of the people. How can two hospitals especially UHWI, reject a pregnant patient labeled as critical? As Dr. Ford revealed on radio, no protocol would condone the rejection such as a patient in dire need of special care.

The OUTRAGE

Jamaicans have shared their disgust with the health care management of Jodian from her arrival at Andrews Memorial Hospital where they appeared to have labeled her as Covid-19 positive without a sample and proven test result. While details reveal Jodian had a cough and had developed a fever, health care workers began to remove other patients on the ward instead of caring for Jodian who would later die from heart failure.

In the last People’s National Party administration in Government, Dr. Fenton Ferguson had his own scandal referred to as the ‘dead baby scandal.’ Ferguson was removed from the Ministry of Health by former Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller. Prime Minister Andrew Holness has mentioned a criminal investigation to be conducted by the Jamaica Constabulary Force and will further instruct the Director of Public Prosecution to have the final decision on the matter. It is unsuitable for the Prime Minister to delay leadership and justice when his action is desperately needed. The Jamaican health care system is far from perfect. However, what seemed routine for a pregnant woman became a nightmare.

Fearon’s family appears to be determined to make public the details surrounding the death of Jodian. Dr Jephthah Ford, who observed the post-mortem examination of the body, has been in the media revealing information he saw on Fearon’s docket. The findings of the post-mortem examination have made Jamaicans more incensed that the health care system that taxpayers hold up did not save her life.

Instead of demanding more of health care providers, Holness doubled down on his agenda to hide the truth. Instead of determining what went wrong, he has ordered the inclusion of the JCF and the DPP. This move has signaled to the people of Jamaica that the Prime Minister is more interested in hiding the truth and not holding public officials accountable. Leadership on this matter would also include the blunt fact that our health care system failed big time. Our leaders in the current political dispensation appear to lack empathy, care and love; all these values appear absent, even in public agencies.