17 Nov 2011

No Fathers allowed–Round 2

The following story is reproduced with the express permission of Marlon Bascombe

“Recently, it has been my pleasure/displeasure to highlight what has to be one of the most backward, archaic and discriminatory policies that still exist within Trinidad and Tobago. I refer of course to the policy of the San Fernando General Hospital and the South West Regional Health Authority that prevents fathers from being with their ill children on the paediatric ward at night, while mothers can stay for twenty-four hours. Unfortunately, my eleven month old son fell seriously ill again and had to be warded. To the Minister of Health and all his subordinates in all the Regional Health Authorities, I fail to understand the logic behind the fact that as a father I am allowed to register my son, be with him to check his vitals, take a blood test, a urine test, an X-ray and change his clothes, yet I cannot stay with him? At this specific time I must simply leave his side? It really is baffling!!

All of the above occurred today (November 16th). When he was finally admitted to the ward I immediately spoke to the Head Nurse on the ward as well as a person in the nursing supervisor's office to explain calmly to them that (as I told Mr Gosine, the acting CEO of the SWRHA) I had no intention of following their policy. This was around four in the evening. By seven o'clock, my son was sleeping on my chest with a fever. Every time he moved from me, he cried. At quarter past seven, the Head Nurse announced that all fathers will have to leave by seven thirty, which was our 'grace period'. Quarter to eight was the final call then security started coming in.

This policy was roundly criticised by those present. Fathers who were there (like me) thought it a hard and unfair thing to leave their children behind. One mother was also ill and she wished her husband could stay in her place, but he could not. Another father had an issue with leaving his dengue stricken child alone, even for the time it would take for the baby's mother to get there. I personally asked every mother present if they had an issue with me staying to look after my son. None did.

Eventually a Mrs Geraldine Lewis and a Mrs pilgrim (Managing Director and Nursing Manager as I understood it) came to the ward to ask if the men present would leave. They came to me first. I refused on several grounds including those mentioned above, I showed them how my son would cry if I left, I even explained that their so called 'night security' concerns could just as easily occur in the day and that an improvement in their security protocols, not my exit, was needed.

The police came to the ward after my repeated refusal. The officer almost made the cardinal error of attempting to place his hands on me while I held my son. The legal battle that would have followed that near act of stupidity would have been staggering. Not wanting to resist I left the ward with the officer who reminded me that under the still in effect State of Emergency, I could have been remanded into custody for forty-eight hours. Yes T & T, I, a law abiding citizen could have gone to jail for wanting to stay with my own child. I was definitely prepared to do so if the police had shown poorer judgement. I was also told by this officer, who took all my personal information (maybe to check my not so criminal record) to be careful of what I said to the media because that could also see me arrested.

Where exactly do I live? At a time when a Trinibagonian is responsible for the creation of 'International Men's Day', it would seem that as a man my rights are severely limited. Let me end by saying to all those responsible for this policy that as patients of your institutions we come to you stressed, physically stressed and at times mentally stressed; at the moment you are consistently adding to that stress instead of treating it. To the Honourable Dr Fuad Khan, back up your words to the local media; see that this policy is changed immediately. Over to you.”

I add my voice to Mr Bascombe’s  for two main reasons.

  1. One I was aware of this nonsense at various hospitals, on the Rock many years but had forgotten about it. In those days – being brainwashed by a stupid culture, I would not have seen a problem with it. Today I thank Mr Bascombe for opening my eyes to that which I had forgotten.
  2. There was almost an incident at a La Joya swimming pool, in St. Joseph, 20-odd years ago. My two-year old son was in the kiddies swimming (paddling pool) which was about a 25 cm at the deepest end. Tell me how much intelligence you require to know that a 2 year old requires constant supervision to prevent them from drowning in such a pool. No don’t – I’m being totally sarcastic!! Well the jackass of a pool attendant came round to tell me, “get out orf dee pool.. daize fuh chil’ren only!”.. I explain the risk. He repeats himself and explains that it’s either I comply or I be asked to leave the premises. I had more to lose, so I took my son out of the pool instead of causing a ‘scene’.

That is the way they behave on a totally stupid Rock!! I’m sure there was some policy that was designed to prevent males from paedophilic activity in a pool. I do not know – I do not want to know. What I do know is that my two year old son was not to drown as a result of such policy – and to be rescued from death by a jackass!! Rock logic serves Rock-Huggers. They find ways of justifying any and everything without referencing policy and behaviour against some higher guiding principle, or logic. They argue damn nonsense and they know not how stupid they are.. they know not that they know not!