Officials deny negligence in Bartica’s second COVID-19 death

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The Regional Health Officer in Region Seven, Dr. Edward Sagala, and other officials have denied claims that negligence led to the death of a second person from the town of Bartica.

The patient, recorded as the 20th COVId-19 death for the country, died on July 21. Roger Martindale, 54, died at the Bartica Hospital where he was admitted on July 19 with respiratory symptoms and had other underlying co-morbidities.

Family members have stated that Martindale died as a result of negligence and not COVID-19 but the Regional Health Officer in a statement on Monday denied the claim.

Dr. Sagala said, “while we fully understand the pains and emotions surrounding any death of a loved one, we also wish to point out that accusing the institution of neglect is rather unfortunate, unnecessary, demoralizing and unhelpful, to say the least, to the hardworking staff who constantly put their own lives, and that of their families, at risk in the execution of their duties.”

He explained that Martindale was swabbed on July 20, prior to his death. The results from the samples were given to the doctors in Bartica on July 22, after he died.

“The patient was experiencing respiratory symptoms and had other underlying co-morbidities, making him a very high-risk patient. At no time was he placed with other Covid-19 patients, but was isolated as a suspected case,” the RHO said.

The family told media operatives that they were not informed in a timely manner of his death or diagnosis.

Dr. Sagala said in his statement that the COVID-19 result was received from Georgetown very late in the afternoon on July 22.

“Numerous unsuccessful attempts were made by doctors Clementson and Jardine to contact the family during the night, and so they were informed the following day, July 23, 2020, at 10:00 am. Subsequently, mandatory contact tracing was done,” he added.

Two of the closest family members were tested and both results came back negative.

Further, he said family members were provided with Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to handle the body and were also advised on the WHO protocols on how the body should be handled for burial.

The Medical Superintendent of the Bartica Regional Hospital, Dr. Jillian Apple-Jardine,
also contacted the older brother of the deceased, and met with him at the hospital to ensure that the family understands how the burial of such a case should be conducted, that is, in accordance with the World Health Organization’s protocols on burials of positive Covid-19 cases.

A 34 year old businessman who previously travelled to a mining community was recorded as the first COVID-19 death from Bartica.

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