Damaris Urena and Marcus Cruz are today January 4th mourning the loss of their 4-month old baby. It did not have to happen. According to the Daily News the family's ordeal began December 15th at about 5 a.m. when the baby awoke with a high fever complaining and whining.
She gave the baby ibuprofen, the News article goes on, but when it failed to bring down the fever or relieve his suffering, she and Cruz took their son to Jacobi Medical Center. In the Emergency Room at about 6 a.m. Urena said that a doctor took the baby's temperature, told her it was 102.5 degrees and gave them acetaminophen (Tylenol). The doctor told the parents that their son had an ear infection, gave them a prescription for amoxycillin, an antibiotic and sent them home. Urena said, according to the News' article that she pointed to the red bumps, like insect bites that were showing up on the baby's belly, legs and hands. "I told the doctor.' My son is just getting these,' I knew it wasn't an ear infection."
Urena said she tried to tell the doctor about her concerns but it all fell on deaf ears. She was too tired to try and "second guess" the doctor. She made attempts to tell physician that these bumps that were sprouting all over the child's body were not normal for ear infections. This Mother already had two children and had lived through ear infections in the past.
A few hours later in the couple's Bronx apartment the baby still had a fever and the rash was spreading. By 3 p.m. the couple took their son to a nearby clinic where his condition was deemed so bad he was given oxygen and rushed back to Jacobi by ambulance.
The last time Urena saw her son was at 4 p.m."He was breathing, he was crying," she said. "He was responding to me." After that, the family charges, hospital personnel would not allow Urena to see Marcus and made her sit in the waiting area.
At about 8 p.m. the mother of another patient told Urena the baby had died. Cruz said that he later found his son's small, limp body in a corner of the emergency room and that a doctor told them to wait in a conference room where someone would talk with them.
No one ever came. At midnight, Urena and Cruz finally approached a nurse. "What are you still doing here?" they quoted her as saying. "Everybody went home for the night."
The couple's lawyer Kenneth Kerner said "It is apparent that what occurred at Jacobi was inexcusable. A great tragedy occurred here due to the hospital's and physician's failure to render prompt medical treatment to this child."
A Jacobi spokeswoman said the child received "appropriate medical care . in a timely fashion" adding "We. Stand behind the decisions made by our medical professionals."
From my own vantage point 1) no serious bona fide medical decisions were made 2) there was obviously neglect for these people 3) the hospital was ashamed and didn't even have the decency or compassion to confront this couple, comfort them, and offer grief counseling.
There is something very wrong at the core of the Medical system. I can't even say that if these people had been obviously wealthy or famous that they would have had different treatment. Mistakes and neglect are rampant, as we know from the Sidney Zion and Andy Warhol cases. Where is the compassion the duty to "do no harm"?
American seems to have 2 Gods at this point in time 1) Money and 2) Celebrity. There are a few runners up for the short list: youth, a good PR firm behind you, callous indifference to the suffering of the poor, and a steady gaze fixated at the bottom line.
Dorothy Guellec Member Foreign Press Ass'n