By Jacob Nakamura
(Tumon, Guam) Doctors are imploring Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero to move labor and delivery operations from Guam Memorial Hospital to Guam Regional Medical City to avoid exposure of mothers and babies to COVID-19. GMH is the designated hospital for COVID-19 hospitalization.
The growing call for this to happen comes amid a complaint filed by a young father of a newborn girl, who was found on top of a table in a break room cramped with hospital workers not wearing masks. The man, Kevin Rivera, complained that his girlfriend Jayronne Gandaoli was discharged by Dr. Thomas Shieh at 8 a.m. Sunday, and that between 11 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. were forced to separate from their newborn daughter to discharge from the hospital together.
When they arrived back at the maternity ward to take their daughter, they could not find either she or the nurse, who forced them to separate from their daughter. They searched frantically throughout the ward to find their daughter before noticing a group of hospital workers through the open door of a small room. Their daughter was strapped to a car seat that sat in the middle of a table surrounded by total strangers. The workers were eating, talking, and laughing without masks on within feet of the baby.
Dr. Shieh, who delivered the baby, is upset about the handling of the baby following his discharge orders, according to Mr. Rivera.
Here is the text of Mr. Rivera's complaint to GMH administrator Lillian Perez-Posadas:
There was an egregious compromise of safety protocols which occurred as we were preparing to leave GMH with our newborn baby.
After receiving the clearance from our primary physician, Dr. T. Shieh and attending Pediatrics Physician Dr. Kioko we were advised to await the discharge paperwork from one of the nurses from the ward. Nurse Natasha Fabia who was assisting and advising of our discharge procedures had indicated that we (both parents) were required to proceed to Patient Registration to complete the discharge process. During our last two deliveries, both mom and baby were able to wait in room while I completed discharge process. To my surprise, Nurse Natasha indicated that both parents had to both be present at the discharge desk.
I questioned her direction as in the past, all that was required to discharge was the presence of the mother and did not require the added presence of the father. Nurse Natasha insisted that it was part of the discharge procedure and was adamant that both parents had to be present.
As you can imagine, given and due to the nature of the on-going rapidly evolving health crisis our anxiety levels in having leave our newborn in such an unguarded environment. I adamantly argued that it was essential that I remain with our newborn as to ensure safety and exposure was applied and enforced. Even after minutes of stating my concerns, Nurse Natasha remained altruistic in her assertions that both parents had to proceed and be present during the administrator discharge procedures. We continued to articulate our concern for the safety of our newborn, but it appeared that our concerns were falling on deaf ears.
Nurse Natasha then placed our newborn (strapped into a newborn carseat) on the Nurse Station Table and assured us that she would watch over our newborn as we processed the discharged paperwork. We, given the current COVID-19 crisis were obviously anxious as we reluctantly relinquished physical visibility and safety guardrails of our newborn.
Upon completing the paperwork necessary for discharge we retuned to the Maternity ward and what can only be described as a parents’ nightmare discovered that our newborn was moved from the Nurse’s Station Table to what can only be described as the ward’s break/lunch room. The room was occupied by employees/staff members of the ward (and presumably other wards) and to our horror, were being jovial, careless and unware of a newborn in their direct presence. Not only did they not practice social distancing, they were also eating and disregarding the presence of a newborn in the ‘LUNCH ROOM’.
These actions run counter-intuitive to GMH’s safety health protocols. This breach is exacerbated with the fast moving changing events with the world health care crisis. This appalling and unexcused breach of protocol has exposed our newborn to the deadly COVID-19 virus I’m sure many if not all health care professions will agree that the Employee Lunch Room nowhere nears the safety and health protocols of any hospitals. Even during normal times, this breach would be viewed as non-compliant, but add to the current health crisis it was even more important that ALL SAFETY process and procedures be followed.
It appears that your staff violated all safety procedures and had place the health of my newborn in jeopardy. This is inexcusable, unacceptable and above all, inhuman. The audacity and temerity of GMH’s Safety Program is pervasive of its health care culture. As the Health Administrator, I also hold you equally responsible for this breach. With the rising COVID-19 cases on Guam we should not and cannot ease our situational awareness which includes far and beyond the safety of your patients. You are the front line protectors of our citizen’s, you took an oath to place every patient health as your utmost priority. We hold high expectations from our only government hospital , especially when it comes to patient care and health, and in this instance, you’ve failed.
I don’t know what the future holds for my newborn and as a father it grieves me that I allowed what I believed were trusted health care professionals to convince me that safety of my newborn baby was their priority. In reality, it appears that eating lunch and laughing it up was theirs.
I am demanding a response as well as an explanation of what was allowed to occur. This was literally a life or death situation because last time I checked, the lunch room was not place to care for any newborn.