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posted 27 Sept 2016, 07:48 by Gerry Kangalee
Dear Prime Minister

As Budget Day approaches I write to remind you to Budget with Randy in mind. You may well ask who the hell Randy is. He is my grandson who survived a stray bullet in 2014. Later to be struck down by the callous and uncaring attitude of a few members of staff at of the POS General Hospital.

Some describe it as a medical mishap; I call it a dereliction of duty. The noxious treatment meted out to a sixteen year old that left him with “hypoxic brain injury and in a persistent vegetative state” can only be described as criminal negligence. Neglect further perpetrated by the state since to date no one has been held accountable. Both past and present governments have failed to come to the table in an effort to try to right this grave injustice.

The findings of the NWRHA investigative report clearly pinpoint their culpability; how can it be disregarded? How does one ignore the plight of a child struck down in the prime of his life; who according to medical evidence will never walk, talk, taste his food or help himself ever again? He now requires round the clock supportive care. Every two hours he has to be turned and fed a liquid diet directly into his stomach.

His trachea device, PEG, and catheter are akin to new body parts. They must be suctioned, cleaned, and changed, just as he has to be washed, shaved and diapered. Due to limb contractures he needs to be stretched, massaged and through it all loved unconditionally. This is as a result of a failed duty of care by the state and its agents. To whom does a family turn for justice in the face of such unfairness?

Some days I peruse the medical records and the findings give me no consolation. I note as the report directs “that there were instances of inadequate care from both doctors and Nurses as reflected in the absence of adequate documentation in the patients’ notes.” (P12. 5.0.).

I choke back the tears as I recommit to never own a firearm. I think about how easy it is to kill someone. Whether you pull the trigger of a gun or you refuse to clear a patient’s breathing apparatus. Some people give life others take; as demonstrated in the report “The consultants stated that after 5 rounds of CPR the patient has an audible heart sound and recordable vital sign…that the tracheotomy tube that was removed appeared to be stenosed from dried secretions.” (P4 2.2).

Our early concerns of improper management of the tracheostomy device were ignored. At times there would be mucous spilled over Randy’s chest and face as a result. Nurses spoke frankly about their aversion to phlegm; how they abhor dealing with trachea patients. The device being used was not ‘convenient’ for cleaning and new ones were supposed to be ordered. Doctors mourned their ignored requests for more efficient trachea equipment which unfortunately were only purchased after Randy was irretrievably harmed. The report states that “a copy of the requisition form for the ordering of tracheotomy tubes was tracked but not located. The order was seen to be logged in the logbook in ENT Theatre in September 2013 but not in the logbook in the Logistics Department.” (P 12 para. 1).

How do we make peace with this? Randy became ‘collateral damage’ when on March 14th 2014 a stray bullet entered through the back of his head and exited just above his mouth. He spent two weeks at the ICU benefitting in large measure from the unrelenting efforts of the staff there. He was transferred to Ward 41 where less than favourable conditions existed, and which triggered a sequence of harm. So many before him reportedly died or were returned from Ward 41 to the ICU in spite of the complaints of medical professionals.

They tried to make sense of why after so many resources are used up in ICU, patients are moved to an extremely poor, under resourced, after care regimen which puts them at risk After all Randy was a cause celebre of the ICU a huge success story. He was now walking, enjoying a soft diet, and finding his voice and due for discharge in two to three days.

The consultant reported “RR was ambulant tolerating oral diet with a GCS of 10T (communicating) on the ward. On 21/04/2014 RR had a respiratory, followed by cardiac arrest secondary to blocked tracheostomy tube. There was a return of spontaneous circulation after 30mins resuscitation. His GCS was 2T at this time and he was noted to have tonic clonic seizures.”

I have fought many battles, ignored even more, chose causes and had others thrust upon me. I have looked after and served the interests of so many people. With an unbroken spirit I have survived numerous attacks. There are situations in life that can take you to a place you have no wish to occupy.

It is exhausting trying to be civil in the face of being ignored, bad treatment, and an absence of decency and where taking away people’s dignity is par to the course. I think of baby Simeon Cottle and the disregard shown to his mother. The sextuplets gifted to us and the then Minister’s retort that even if they were born on Mars they would not survive. I do not trust myself to speak of the current office holder. I grieve the deep and enduring caring of the few, lost in the chasm of uncaring which has come to mark us as a nation.

My son and daughter in law they struggle to do right by Randy. The rage of his older brother is palpable; the impact on the smaller children I try to mitigate every day. The selfless contributions of grandparents go a long way. As working class people with the best intentions, the unintended decline of giving is imminent.

During this ordeal there are many things that I took in stride. The shooters still walk the streets with impunity. The unfair comments, labelling and stereotyping designed to show Randy in a bad light. A colleague’s comment that the ‘little coolie boy’ lying in the bed could not be my grandson. The racist ‘horn child’ hint not lost on me; as I gave thanks that Randy has two fathers. Friends lost interest as soon as they found out that he was not of my blood.

The nurse in the High Dependency Unit treated him with odium. She believes that teenage boys from certain areas suffering bullet wounds do not deserve to live. These things neither hurt nor surprised me. After all, this place that I love has exposed me to extreme examples of cruelty; for instance medical practitioners who remove bullets from the bodies of ‘bandits’ without benefit of anaesthesia.

Ironically, my stoicism was dismantled by one tiny bit of the report which reads “In instances when, Randy’s health deteriorated my nurses acted in a professional and proficient manner and well beyond the call of duty”. #&*!! What does that mean?

He was served bread and sausage when he was supposed to be on a liquid diet. There has been poor treatment, unkind comments, and demonstrable discrimination based on politics, geography, gender, age and violation of his rights as a patient. With those five words ‘beyond the call of duty’ in mind, I call on the government and those in authority not to go beyond, but simply to do your duty. Consider the NWRHA report, accept liability, hold persons accountable, come to the table, and honour your responsibility. This war on the people must stop!