THE Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) has launched a formal investigation into the death of Jodian Fearon, the young mother who developed complications last Friday after being denied access to health care at several Corporate Area hospitals.
The revelation was made by Prime Minister Andrew Holness at yesterday’s virtual press conference at Jamaica House in St Andrew.
Holness, who described the matter as “most upsetting”, said preliminary reports in the public domain indicate that the duty of care owed to Fearon, who would’ve turned 24 today, was not executed.
“The case must be fully investigated. Already, the police have commenced their own investigation to determine if anyone was criminally negligent,” the prime minister said.
He said public sentiments expressed about the circumstances leading up to Fearon’s death are justified, and that a strong message must be sent that the incident does not reflect the Government’s position.
“This is not something that we will, in any way, seek to have hidden, covered up [and] not thoroughly investigated. The full force of the State and all its resources must be placed in ensuring that we get to the bottom of this issue, and those who are responsible must be held to account. There can be no second-guessing this intention,” Holness said.
At the same time, he said Cabinet is moving to ensure that any action taken by the Government, in terms of investigation, does not compromise any legal action that might be taken by the parties involved.
Fearon’s family has since retained the service of attorney-at-law Isat Buchanan.
“So we have asked the attorney general to consider carefully the direction in which the Government’s investigation into this matter should go. Already, administrative investigations are under way… but there have been calls for other forms of investigation, which we are sympathetic to. We have considered, but we just want to ensure that whatever action that we take, it does not in any way impact upon other civil or criminal action that could be taken in our courts,” the prime minister said, adding that advice from Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte should be forthcoming today as to how the Government will proceed.
Fearon, a first-time mom, died late Friday after a journey that saw her travelling across the Corporate Area and being denied access to health care.
She was initially suspected to have COVID-19, but subsequently tested negative for the infectious disease.
According to her sister Shanice Lloyd, who spoke to the Jamaica Observer on Sunday, Fearon arrived at the privately run Andrews Memorial Hospital last Thursday and was being prepared for delivery.
However, she was transferred the following morning to Spanish Town Hospital in St Catherine, after requests for transfers to the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) and Victoria Jubilee Hospital reportedly fell through.
It is alleged that the staff at Andrews Hospital refused to treat her. The hospital has since denied this.
Following the delivery of her baby at Spanish Town Hospital, Fearon was transferred to the UHWI after reportedly developing complications.
She died later that day.
Yesterday, Holness said Fearon’s death has again highlighted the issue of stigmatisation that has, for some time, hindered Government and health officials’ effort to limit the spread of COVID-19 locally.
“The extreme cases have come to my attention of families being totally ostracised by their communities, put out of their communities, people threatened with physical violence, and now we have a situation where a young Jamaican has died.
“We must always remember our humanity. We cannot allow fear and panic to overtake good sense and professional duty,” the prime minister said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton said that the final report from an administrative investigation is expected today.
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