MIRAMICHI, N.B. – A grieving New Brunswick mother says someone in the health care system needs to take responsibility for the death of her five-week-old daughter, and she wants answers.
Tessa McAllister of Miramichi weeps as she talks about her daughter Blayke, who died at home last month just hours after being seen by a doctor.
“I want Blayke’s story to be heard and the right people to take responsibility for it,” she said.
McAllister said Blayke — her fourth child — was small at birth, just four pounds, four ounces, but healthy. However she said that changed after two weeks with the baby coughing, crying and suffering with diarrhea.
McAllister said she went to the doctor a number of times because the baby was phlegmy and had issues breathing.
She said a chest X-ray and swab were done on Jan. 30.
“Her left lung was completely congested … but nobody contacted me,” she said.
McAllister said she only learned the results two days later when she saw her doctor and was told the baby had tested positive for respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.
In adults and older, healthy children, RSV symptoms are mild and typically mimic the common cold but can cause severe infection in young infants.
McAllister said she wanted Blayke admitted to Miramichi Regional Hospital, but the doctor told her it was 20 per cent over capacity.
“He proceeded to call the hospital and they said there’s a really bad flu going around the ER, we wouldn’t suggest bringing the baby over here because we’re overcapacity at 120 per cent, so maybe talk to the mother about other options for now,” she said.
McAllister said she was told by her doctor to use a humidifier at home and bring the baby back the next day.
Blayke died that night.
“My baby died beside me in bed with her big sister. I screamed, I cried. I didn’t know what to do. I felt her hand was so cold,” she said, crying.
McAllister said a baby with that condition should have been admitted to hospital and not just sent home.
She said she wants answers, and has filed complaints against the doctor and the hospital.
Contacted Tuesday, the doctor’s office said he wasn’t taking media calls.
The Horizon Health Network, which is responsible for the Miramichi Regional Hospital, would not comment about the specific case.
However, in an emailed statement, Marilyn Underhill, executive director for the hospital, said Horizon always provides a bed and care even when their facilities are over capacity.
“When we are faced with such situations it may be necessary for patients to stay in the Emergency Department, or other non-traditional areas (such as ambulatory care), until a room becomes available in a nursing unit,” she wrote.
“Pediatric patients are sent to the pediatric unit as soon as possible, when they are admitted. Regardless of where the patient is placed, our focus is to ensure their safety and they receive the best possible care.”
— By Kevin Bissett in Fredericton.