(Updated Oct. 5, 2020 with comments from GMH)
On Oct. 1, Guam Memorial Hospital administrator Lilian Posadas said one of about a dozen pregnant women being treated at GMH for Covid-19 lost her baby while the doctors were trying to determine whether or not to end the pregnancy.
But the pregnant woman’s sister, Tanya Barcinas, said the baby had already been removed from her sister’s womb without the mother’s knowledge. “She doesn’t even know she lost her baby,” Barcinas said.
She claimed her sister had been sedated and was not aware that she went into labor and gave birth naturally.
“The messed-up thing about it is they took pictures of the baby to show her when she came out of this. How stupid are you to show her those pictures if she survives this? How do you think she’ll feel once she knows that her son isn’t inside her and that he’s gone? To show her those pictures is stupid.”
Barcinas said her then 27-week-pregnant sister might have caught Covid-19 at GMH’s pregnancy ward. “She was negative when she went into the hospital, on Sept. 20,” said Barcinas. “Within a span of three days, they swab her nine times. What the heck for? It was four on Saturday, three on Sunday, and twice again on Monday.”
GMH administrator Lilian Posadas denied allegations that the mother was not aware of her situation.
"Incorrect and untrue. The attending OB/GYN doctor explained to the patient all that was happening to the baby," Posadas said. "GMH did not remove the baby. The stillborn baby was delivered through the natural birthing/spontaneous delivery process."
Posadas also denied speculations that the mother was caught the coronavirus at GMH.
"As it is our practice/protocol, all individuals who enter the ER are swabbed for the Covid-19 infection via the rapid ABBOTT ID NOW analysis/test and, depending on the patient’s condition and symptoms, the patient may be re-swabbed and the NP specimen gets sent to DPHSS for the PCR analysis," she said.
She said the patient was tested initially and only once upon admission into ER.
"The initial test result via the ABBOTT analysis did not show sufficient “virus load” hence, the analysis/resulted as negative. Because the patient complained of difficulty breathing and fever two days prior to admission to ER, the patient was isolated with the appropriate isolation precautionary measures and, the attending physician ordered a retest hence, patient was re-swabbed within 12 hours while in the hospital, specimen was analyzed at DPHSS lab via the PCR test and, resulted positive.
Citing scientific data and what is known about Covid-19, Posadas said "the incubation period from time of exposure is between 2-14 days hence, based on the individual’s symptom onset of two days prior to admission to ER, the individual already had the SARS-CoV-2 Covid-19 infection in her system. The patient did not contract Covid in the hospital."
Posadas maintained that "GMH remains safe for all patients, pregnant or not."
Barcinas, meanwhile, said she hopes that the hospital will do better to protect mothers and their babies. “GMH should've monitored her and the baby more diligently, especially since they’re now blaming Covid,” Barcinas said.
“They should know that she’s a high-risk patient from her records. That baby was about 27 weeks, which is a high survival rate if they took him out. He would’ve been a pre-me, but he would’ve had a chance to survive. They haven’t given us cause of death for the baby. They didn’t call us when they discovered the baby died. How do you think this will make her feel?”
Barcinas believes that her nephew would still be alive if her sister had been sent to another hospital. “I heard doctors raise questions about why they can't move the maternity ward to GRMC. Why not?” she asked.
“GMH is a Covid hospital. That's more risk right there for pregnant ladies, especially ladies like my sister who has a high-risk pregnancy. All you hear from GMH is that they have underlying health issues. I feel they’re hiding something. It's Covid and when you have patients with Covid, we expect you to monitor them more diligently than non-Covid patients.”
A health care professional, who requested not to be named, said the incident raised the question on the safety of GMH.
“What has been done in the past five days to ensure their safety?” the source said. “No one less that the governor should speak to this issue today. The fact that she is silent suggests that she is not situationally aware.”
Barcinas said she has not been able to hear from her sister due to her sedation. “We haven’t spoken to her, because they have her on a ventilator and she’s been sedated. We don’t know how long she’s been sedated,” she said.
“They said that her and the baby were fine Thursday, that they were stable. But when I went back into my messages, I saw that Thursday was the day I tried to message her and she never responded to me. I don’t even know if they’re telling us the truth about when they put her on the ventilator or sedated her, because no one can go to GMH.”
Although her sister is unable to speak, GMH staff set up a Zoom call for the family. “I went into the Zoom with my other siblings over the weekend,” said Barcinas. “She was still sedated. I guess the staff put an iPad in the room and we could see her and they encouraged us to talk to her, but she wasn’t responding. She's still sedated.”
The father’s child has been especially devastated, since he cannot visit his partner at GMH. Barcinas said, “I’m sure that the baby’s father is almost losing it, because he can’t see my sister and GMH isn’t giving him answers. They were looking forward to this baby. They already lost their first one.”
Barcinas also mentioned that her sister’s partner has tried speaking to GMH directly, but was unsuccessful. She said,
“My other sister has spoken to the doctors. She told me that there was a commotion last night at the hospital with the baby’s father, but didn’t go into specifics. I can’t blame him. They're not giving us any information. Their answers aren’t adding up to anything.”
Barcinas wants GMH to be more honest with families, especially after hearing Posadas speak to the media about her sister. “GMH needs to watch what they’re saying and what they put out into the media,” she said. “Everything they said, especially what Lillian Posadas said last night, it’s not true. Because my sister was negative when she got there.”
A request for comment from GMH was not returned as of this writing.
(Updated: Tanya clarified that her sister gave birth naturally. Tanya Barcinas was earlier identified through her Facebook name, TanyaToebie. Our apologies)