Yesterday, I was dismayed to read about what happened to Brigitte Robinson and John Kennedy when their daughter was born at the Kingston General Hospital.
Following complications from a C-section to deliver her daughter, Brigitte Robinson’s husband, John Kennedy, was there to help take care of their newborn.
Except for when Ms. Robinson’s room-mate was breast-feeding: Mr. Kennedy (and other father(s) ) was kicked out of the room, because the privacy curtain was deemed insufficient to protect her modesty.
But that is not all….
Newborns need to be kept clean. Their skin is very sensitive. So, they do need to be kept clean. Mr. Kennedy did try to keep his newborn daughter clean. But, he was not permitted to use the sink in the room, provided for this purpose, because providing proper hygiene for his newborn also offended that same woman….
BlazingCatfur, who brought this story to my attention, also provided an email address for the ombudsman for the Kingston General Hospital (firstname.lastname@example.org), so that concerned Canadians could let him/her know exactly what we thought about this.
So, I did. Here is the letter I sent today to the ombudsman of the Kingston General Hospital:
Dear Sir/Madam:I am writing to you regarding the experience Brigitte Robinson and
John Kennedy had at hospital during the birth of their daughter, as
highlighted in this article:
First of all, let me commend your medical professionals on their
excellent work during the actual delivery itself. Well done.
However, that is where the accolades end. Once this acute period of
danger had passed and the mother and infant were placed in a hospital
room, the way that your hospital policies were implemented had
actually put the newborn in a potentially dangerous situation.
Please, note that I speak as a woman immigrant and also as a member of
a religious minority: I understand very well indeed how important it
is to be respectful of wide range of sensibilities. However, this
must never be done at the expense of others.
There is a hierarchy of needs.
Providing necessary care adequately, especially for a newborn, must
take precedence over cultural or religious sensitivities of other
patients in the hospital.
If a father is taking care of an infant because, like in this case,
the mother has not recovered from surgery (or for whatever other
potential reason), he must not be excluded from the room – regardless
of what anyone’s sensitivities may be. Why? Because excluding him
puts the infant at a disadvantage and potential harm.
Accommodating sensitivities is important – but it must not be invasive
on other patients. If a person does not feel comfortable nursing in
the room where there are other people, she might be provided with
formula so that she may feed her infant without the need to expose her
breast. In other words, sensitivities ought to be accommodated
through providing choices – not through infringing on others!
If a father is taking care of an infant, barring him from washing the
cloths in the closest sink – the sink especially provided for the care
of those in this room – is putting the sensitivities of some people
above the real physical requirement of this infant for proper hygiene!
Newborns have many needs that must be satisfied if the child is to
thrive. They are the most vulnerable members of our society.
Enacting any policy which infringes on the parents’ ability to care
for their infants adequately – however noble the motivation – is
Demanding that the family be financially responsible for having been
placed in a setting where they finally were unhindered from caring
adequately for their infant is not only unreasonable, it suggests ill
will from your hospital. I would like to register my strong
disapproval of this outrageous behaviour by your organization.