A 29-year-old mother of four was laid to rest less than a week ago after she gave birth at the Western Regional Hospital. It is a case that has left the family forlorn and has prompted them to seek legal recourse for what they deem as neglect on the part of the medical officers at the Belmopan Hospital. Norberta Sanchez, who worked in the tourism sector in Big Falls Village, Toledo District, was pregnant and was ready to give birth to her baby. She was taken to the Dangriga Hospital but as her brother, Alfonso Sanchez, told us, she was later transferred to the Western Regional Hospital due to the absence of equipment in Dangriga. Sanchez says it was at the Western Regional Hospital that his sister’s ordeal began that led to her death.
“At Belmopan was where they did the C-Section for her; it was her first C-Section. The surgery went well; everything went well the baby was brought out ten minutes after the surgery and after that the husband was advised that she needed to do another surgery as there was internal bleeding. As I understand it, the womb did not contract hence the reason, the better way to save her life was to take out her womb. That was done and of course there is a recovery time, she was brought out and after which time she did call home, she called my mom and mentioned that all was well and that she was doing good and she was very happy to have gone through the surgery and the baby was healthy. She assured my mom that everything was good. Afterwards, and this is where I think negligence came in, I do believe that follow ups were not done. Of course after twenty-four hours, that was when the family was shocked. Actually my brother-in-law had been keeping me posted throughout the time and that was when he mentioned, “you know what they are now transferring her to Belize City”. This was at least after twenty four hours; that is when it came very alarming to me because if the procedures are being followed, if everything was being done in Belmopan, why the need now to send her to Belize City?”
With great concern, the family began making preparations to travel from Big Falls Village to Belmopan to visit Nolberta at the hospital. Unfortunately, they couldn’t make it in time and upon her arrival at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital on Wednesday, September 9, Sanchez says it may have been too late to save his sister.
“I believe, at that time then it was already too late because they then transferred her to Belize City. She left Belmopan, I believe, about six thirty to KHMH but by the time she go there, as we understand, it was already late. She was already in a critical condition and as she got there the doctor on duty immediately put here on an ultrasound which clearly showed a pool of blood that had settled in her stomach and they rushed her immediately then to do another surgery and this, of course the body had already taken a toll and hence the reason she did not recover again from the last surgery. There was about three pints of blood, three pints of blood that had actually settled in her stomach and the doctors in Belize City upon getting her, had made it clear that that was a clear case of negligence from doctors in Belmopan.”
According to Sanchez, after her sister died the family went to the hospital to pick up the baby and had an opportunity to speak to the doctor who attended to Nolberta. The family questioned the doctor on the monitoring procedures in place and it was at that point they were told that the hospital has no ultrasound machine and therefore that option was not available to them.
“We want to know what happened, what really transpired and I asked just a question and I said, “You know, Doc, isn’t it procedure that after you do an internal surgery such as this that you no longer can depend on your hands or ability but to bring in some sort of technology to see what is going on inside?” I questioned him and asked him, “Isn’t it practice for you to do an ultrasound to see what is going on inside?” and his response was, “unfortunately we do not have an ultrasound in Belmopan”. Then he made mention that it has to be private. I then replied saying, “well at no time did he indicate that”. If he had indicated that from the beginning the family could have sought other ways of doing the procedure that was done on her and even so if the doctor, and this is what other doctors are saying, if the doctor had been following procedures, had been making the checks on my sister he or she could have seen that there was a drop in blood and that she was getting really weak. Common sense will tell you that if you are losing blood the system will begin crashing down. I don’t think it takes a doctor to really see what will happen if you begin to lose a lot of blood.”
Norberta Sanchez, who is the mother of four children, ages, new born to ten years old, passed away on September 10, 2015 just after three o’clock in the afternoon. The family has begun seeking legal recourse against the Western Regional Hospital.
“It’s only been a week since I’ve lost my sister so we’ve been making contact with attorneys. We are hoping to meet with one as early as tomorrow we should be meeting with one of them. Of course due to the kids it’s hard to just leave them now and want to run on. But of course, the life of my sister is over and this is the cause of all this and that is the reason why we are definitely going to meet with some options and get some answers.”