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Medical records run-around

Published: 
Thursday, August 10, 2017
After three years waiting for documents
Cherisse Lamkin who has been trying to get her mother medical records .

Three years after the death of her mother, Cherisse Lambkin is still trying to get the San Fernando General Hospital to release her mother’s medical records.

Frustrated at a lack of action at the hospital, Lambkin, 29, visited the T&T Guardian’s South Bureau yesterday.

She said on December 4, 2014, she received a call from a nurse at the San Fernando Teaching Hospital, informing her of her mother’s death.

“They said she suffered from cardiac arrest…when my mother was alive she always said she didn’t want anyone cutting her open to do an autopsy, so I carried through with that and did not have one done,” Lambkin said. 

The death certificate given to Lambkin also cited cardiac arrest as the cause of death. But after applying for Nestfield’s medical records to take to the family’s insurance provider in 2014, Lambkin said she began to get a run-around.

“I was told to apply to the hospital for the records. When I went there, they said I needed to pay $37 to a bank account and bring back the receipt. I did all of those things and then they said I would have to wait between four to eight weeks for the records to be processed.”

But it’s been three years, countless trips to the hospital and a lot of heartache for Lambkin.

“I have been trying to move on. Since I left high school, I spent all of my time looking after my mother and I just want an end to this. I need some closure. I never doubted what the doctors said about how my mother died but now I have to wonder.”

Lambkin said she is unemployed as she takes care of her three-year-old son who was born with cerebral palsy. 

“I never worked anywhere, I have my five children and with a son with cerebral palsy, I can’t afford a caretaker so I take care of him myself. I would have used up my money looking after my mother’s funeral arrangements and also looking after my sister’s funeral rites last year. Right now I need that money.”

She claimed there are many other people going through the same ordeal in seeking to access medical records. 

Lambkin made a complaint to the hospital’s Quality Control Department yesterday and was told she would be contacted. 

“I don’t know how much longer this complaint will take to process but I am fed up right now. They need to have some kind of proper system in place to deal with medical records so people can get their documents on time, that department is in a very poor state right now.”

Efforts to contact South West Regional Health Authority Acting chief executive officer, Gail Miller-Meade for comment were unsuccessful.