By Aaron Humes
Free Lance Reporter
A grieving family from the Toledo District is accusing health authorities at the Punta Gorda Hospital of total neglect of care for their daughter, who died of an untreated ruptured appendix.
While they have yet to make a formal complaint with the Ministry, as they prepare to bury the teen, the family is contemplating their legal options and has indicated their intention to sue the Ministry of Health and the PG Hospital.
Lucia Cal, 19, from San Antonio Village, was at work in Punta Gorda several days ago when, according to her father, Jose Antonio Cal, she suffered abdominal pains and was given time off to go to the hospital.
But when she arrived at the Punta Gorda Hospital, she was “totally refused” service and told to check with a health clinic in the town. Once there, basic tests were conducted, and she was given medication and told to check back within a week.
The teenager, who worked as a store clerk, decided to go home, but by the time she arrived, her symptoms had worsened and was immediately returned to the PG hospital.
Cal told the Reporter, “I believe it is total negligence, because she wasn’t given the authority [attention] and the right decision, whereby doctors could have already [done] the test and given the result, at least within another day. Right now, it is my sense, [my] knowledge, my understanding that she was totally denied the service, of getting that at the appropriate time.”
Things only deteriorated from there, as her appendix ruptured causing infection.
From Punta Gorda she was taken to the Southern Regional Hospital in Dangriga and then the Western Regional Hospital in Belmopan where surgery was finally performed, but Lucia’s condition was grave and after some delay, she was transferred to the KHMH, where she died in the Intensive Care Unit.
To make matters worse, Lucia had just learned that she was pregnant with her first child.
Her father described her as loving and helpful and always respectful of others.
According to Cal, someone else from his area died from internal bleeding under similar circumstances and questions the level of dedication of some health professionals.
The Reporter contacted The Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Peter Allen who said: “We are aware of an allegation and the office of the DHS (Director of Health Services) conducts investigations on all such allegations – I understand that this has started but I am not aware of any details at this time. As always, our thoughts and prayers are with the family while we determine exactly what happened.”
Lucia is survived by her parent and four siblings. A Service of Thanksgiving is planned for Sunday, September 20 in her native San Antonio.