A lawsuit in which District #16 Representative Edward Forh is seeking US$25 million from the John F. Kennedy Memorial Center (JFKMC) for his daughter Nakita’s death at the hospital facility commenced yesterday at Civil Law Court with the lawmaker taking the witness stand.
The case is believed to be the first of its kind especially where a sitting lawmaker is claiming millions of United States dollars in damages from a public entity that is funded from allocation made in the national budget by the Legislature, despite the hospital’s continued calls for increment to improve its facility.
Testifying yesterday, Rep. Forh alleged that his daughter died because of negligence on the part of doctors, whose attitude he described as “heartless.”
Justifying his statement, Forh claimed that the doctors deliberately refused to allow Nakita access to the hospital’s nebulizer, a breathing instrument at the center. He said he had pleaded with them for two days to help save his daughter’s life.
Nakita who suffered from asthma died on September 27, 2014, in the hospital’s compound, while reportedly suffering an asthma attack which occurred during the height of the Ebola crisis in the country.
Forh alleged that his daughter died in his arms on the grounds of the hospital, while struggling, crying and calling the hospital staff, but they refused to come to his aide.
Forh claimed that it was on Friday, September 26, 2014, when he took his daughter, based on the advice of a doctor to the JFK Hospital for asthma nebulizer to stabilize her breathing after she had suffered a severe asthmatic attack.
“This is why I am taking the legal action so that ordinary children would not die under similar circumstance like my daughter. I know I would not see her anymore, but we need to make people account for their wicked action,” Ford told the court.
The doctors whom he claimed to have advised him to seek further medication at the JFKMC came from Poly and Sniper Hill Clinics (both in Monrovia).
“Those medical facilities gave me certificates that my daughter did not have any serious medical problems or had suffered from Ebola,” the witness indicated.
Upon their arrival at the hospital, Forh alleged, medical practitioners refused to treat my daughter, because, according to him, they were restricted by their superiors from treating any case they deemed severe unless the patient could produce an Ebola clearance from any of the Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs.)
“I pleaded with them to stabilize her breathing, but they refused to do so. I later took her home, managed with her throughout that night and I returned with her the following day,” Forh said tearfully.
He alleged that on Saturday, the next day, “my queen died in the hospital compound.”
He said upon hearing about his daughter’s death, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf went to the hospital to sympathize with him.
“I told the President that I was going to hold the hospital responsible for the wrongful death of my daughter,” he told the court yesterday.
He went on to say that President Sirleaf ordered an immediate investigation into the matter.
“I was assured by all concerned, including the JFK Management that the investigation would be thorough in bringing out all the facts and circumstances surrounding the doctors’ refusal to admit my daughter, and the resultant death of her,” he alleged.
Instead of receiving President Sirleaf’s report, Rep. Forh alleged that he received from then Minister of Health, Dr. Walter Gwenigale, a document under the signature of the General Administrator of the hospital containing his daughter’s medical report.
“Upon reviewing the document, I was surprised to see that what the hospital described as the medical report was nothing more than a collection of “self-serving statements,” he stated.
He stated that he was not satisfied with report from the ministry because he was never invited to provide information about his daughter’s death, “therefore, I decided to take the matter to the Liberia Medical Board, whose findings established that my daughter’s death was (due to) negligence on the part of the JFKMC.”
“The medical board report said that JFKMC’s negligence was responsible for my daughter’s death,” Rep. Forh told the court.
The case continues.