NATALIA DIES ON WAY TO HOSPITAL
The two hours it took for four-year-old Natalia Samuel to be taken from the Cedros Health Centre to the Point Fortin Area Hospital may have been one of the major factors leading to her death, her mother Basdaye Lall-Ragoo said yesterday.
Weeping under the tent they erected to host Natalia’s wake last night, Lall-Ragoo said it was the police who rushed her daughter from Columbus Bay to the Cedros Health Centre after several calls for an ambulance were unsuccessful. She said there was no ambulance at the health centre and it took 45 minutes for one to arrive and another hour for it to reach the Point Fortin Hospital. Adding to their woes, she said, was the fact that there is no doctor on duty at the Cedros Health Centre on weekends.
“If they had things to help my child, my daughter would have been alive today,” Lall-Ragoo said between tears.
According to a report, Lall-Ragoo, 32, of Fullerton, Cedros, took Natalia, her twin brother Nathan and two other children to Columbus Bay on Sunday. While bathing near the shoreline around 5.30 pm, she said she looked away for a few seconds and when she turned back Natalia was missing.
“I came out the water because I thought she came out the water. I started to look for her but I did not see her. A guy that went with us started to walk the water’s edge and he got her. He brought her to the shore,” Lall-Ragoo said.
Doctors Ramsubhag, Ramdass and Khan, who were liming on the beach, rushed over and performed CPR on Natalia and were able to pump some of the seawater out. Although she was breathing when she left Cedros Health Centre, she was pronounced dead five minutes after reaching the Point Fortin Hospital. Lall-Ragoo was told by doctors that the child had a lot of water in her lungs.
Recalling Sunday’s ordeal, Lall-Ragoo said the tide was high and the water clear at Columbus Bay. She said the incident happened “in the wink of an eye” and no one saw how Natalia got into difficulty and became unconscious. She said her children were accustomed to the beach, as they usually go to Fullerton Bay every three days.
What was an especially tear-jerking moment for relatives yesterday was when as Lall-Ragoo was speaking about Natalia, who Nathan had shared a womb with for nine months, Nathan said in a solemn voice, “She dead.”
An autopsy was supposed to be done at the San Fernando General Hospital yesterday, but Lall-Ragoo said she was given the wrong information and instead went to the Forensic Science Centre, St James. The autopsy was rescheduled to today at the San Fernando Mortuary.
SWRAH CEO RESPONDS
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh last evening said he could not comment on the unavailability of the ambulance service to pick up the child at the beach unless he knew who the family contacted on Sunday. Deyalsingh said the 811 number reaches GMRTT, who is charged with responding to medical emergencies. He said ambulances attached to a regional health authority only transport patients between facilities, but based on the condition of the patient, GMRTT may also transfer patients between facilities. He said RHA ambulances are not usually positioned at health centres. As for the non-availability of a doctor at the health centre, he said some open Monday to Friday. He directed further questions on the opening times of the Cedros Health Centre to the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA).
Also contacted last night, SWRHA CEO Gail Miller-Meade said there is usually an ambulance stationed at the Cedros Health Centre and said she would have to make checks to see why it was not present at the time. She said the health centre operates 24-7, but on weekends they have a district health visitor and after 7 pm they have emergency medical technicians. She said, however, that if a patient’s case becomes serious they are transferred to the Point Fortin Hospital. She said Lall-Ragoo’s claims will be investigated.