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Patients’ rights advocate confident of ‘positive change’ with new KEMH CEO

Nearly 40 Bermudians attended the first ever public meeting to give firsthand accounts of horrific experiences at the King Edward VII Memorial.

One woman broke down in tears as she recounted how the hospital nearly killed her husband not once but twice.

She was one of many to tell their own stories at the first ever public meeting held by the newly formed patients’ advocacy group.

Venetta Symonds, the new chief executive officer designate due to take over in April apologised on behalf of the Bermuda Hospitals Board at the end of the meeting at Paget Gospel Hall.

She received a resounding round of applause when she promised to do her best to ensure what she heard at the meeting never happens again on her watch.

Co-founder Mark Selley said: “I’m impressed with the action taken at this point by hospital management.

“We met with team leaders the day after the meeting and that’s action right away.

“The incoming CEO made a genuine apology and that made a big difference, we picked up 58 cases since the first meeting. The turnout was disappointing but the response by telephone, letter or e-mails was great, but ten people spoke for 23 cases.”

The most tearful account came from Margaret DeSilva, who stood up, burst into tears and said: “I need to tell this story because I’m horrified. They almost killed my husband twice, not once but twice.

“They overdosed with morphine, he ended up in ICU for six days but that wasn’t enough. He went back again when he couldn’t breathe, the hospitalist said it was panic attacks.

“For 28 hours he gasped he was actually turning blue. If it wasn’t for Dr Elaine Campbell who came by that day my husband would be dead, she sent him to ICU right away.”

In tears she sobbed: “My husband had a heart attack because of the hospitalists down there, they’re not doctors, they’re interns and we’re the guinea pigs.

“They can build all the big hospitals they want it’s the staff, all they want is pay cheques they do not take care of the patients. I’ve seen them put food in front of a blind person and expect him to eat it, that is how they treat people down there.

“My husband cries if he has to go down there, he literally has to pass out and have an ambulance come for him, I have my hands full with him.

“He had three strokes while he was in the hospital and I say they caused them. I’ve been through hell with my husband and that hospital for four years, 54 years I’ve been married.

Brian Parkin’s wife Eleanor collapsed at home in December 2010. “I took her to the hospital she had been there for about a day, she was incoherent, I talked to her doctor because she was getting worse.

“They said she had a stroke and had a small blood clot on the brain. I fought to get her overseas and I literally had to fight, no one wanted her sent abroad including the insurance companies which I know we all have issues with.

Once at Lehey Clinic he was told his wife did not suffer a stroke, nor did she have a blood clot on the brain but an infected kidney, and that her brain and heart and her heart were shutting down.

“I was told if I hadn’t gotten her off the Island she would have died within two days.”

Mr Parkin said he had a similar experience when he went to Johns Hopkins after he couldn’t get answers in Bermuda. “When I got there they told me I should have been dead. I was diagnosed with a heart problem.

“I was walking around in pain with a 95 percent blockage for three months, my son took me to KEMH they told me nothing was wrong and sent me home. I think we’ve all been treated in a manner that’s pretty shocking for years.”

Mary DeSilva, the sister of a former Bermuda Hospitals Board Chairman, Fernance Perry, said her husband George was admitted recently, “He went in with both legs, he came out with both legs amputated. I told the nurse in Emergency Ward his doctor said not to wrap his leg because of an ulcer.

“It was clearing up and she wrapped his leg up anyway from the knee down to his foot. After four days they said he has to have it amputated, they cut it off above his knee.

“Three weeks later he kept complaining (that) his heel was burning him, he ended up with gangrene in the other leg two legs cut off in three months.

“He caught germs in hospital and he laid up in his diaper with diarrhoea for hours, they put his bell up high where he couldn’t reach it.

“When I did finally get him home his bottom was red and covered with scabby sores, I’m just beginning to get it cleared up.”

When contacted by

The Royal Gazette Mr Selley was confident there will be a rapid turnaround on the cases with unresolved outcomes.

“We have a meeting with BHB management next week and there will be a meeting with the hospital’s governance committee headed up by Michael Winfield.

“I am very confident we will see positive change when the new CEO takes over in April. I could see she was crushed by what she heard firsthand on Thursday night.

“The main thing for us now is to stick together as a group to get the job done right. Our main goal is to eradicate the anomalies, and that’s exactly what we plan to do.”

Mark Selley speaks at the hospital group public meeting Thursdayt at the Paget Gospel Chapel on Middle Road.

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Published March 05, 2012 at 9:14 am (Updated March 05, 2012 at 9:13 am)

Patients’ rights advocate confident of ‘positive change’ with new KEMH CEO

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