Nurses speak up: We didn’t tape baby’s mouth

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Saturday, May 24, 2014


CEBU CITY -- The nurses on duty when a baby’s mouth was taped in the nursery of the Cebu Puericulture Center and Maternity House (CPCMH) denied they did the deed.

For the first time since the incident happened some two weeks ago, nurses Arianne Mae Pacula and Kamille Isabela Neri came out and faced a fact-finding investigation conducted by the Regional Subcommittee for the Welfare of Children (RSCWC).

Pacula revealed Friday that before the baby’s mother, Jasmine Badocdoc, arrived at the hospital last May 9, there was no tape found on the infant’s lip.

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Lawyer Cornelio Mercado, who represents Pacula and the hospital, said that his clients were willing to undergo a lie-detector test.

The incident, first made public through a Facebook post by the baby’s father, has provoked a public discussion about the quality of newborn care in health facilities.

Before members of the RSCWC on Friday, Pacula revealed that she had encountered Badocdoc around 7:30 p.m. last May 9.

Pacula said that while on duty at that time with Neri and a midwife, she noticed that Badocdoc was waiting in the hospital’s Mother and Child Room (MCR), where mothers would breastfeed their babies.

Pacifier

Pacula recalled telling Badocdoc that she may have to wait until the baby woke up. While Badocdoc was waiting in the MCR, Pacula returned to the nurses’ station.

A few minutes later, she said, she was surprised that Badocdoc had entered the nursery and asked her why there was a piece of tape on her baby’s upper lip.

Pacula said that when she and Badocdoc went to the baby’s crib, she saw, apart from the tape, a pacifier near the baby.

“I was even surprised nganong naa’y (why there was a) pacifier,” Pacula said.

But contrary to Badocdoc’s testimony, Pacula said that the mother still breastfed her baby even with the tape on. Pacula said that even with the tape, the baby was able to suckle.

Pacula told the committee that she then left Badocdoc and had dinner with her fellow nursery workers in the wash room. While eating, they would check the nursery from time to time.

After dinner, Badocdoc reportedly approached Pacula and asked her to remove the tape as she was afraid to remove it herself.

Nurse ‘troubled’

Pacula had promised Badocdoc that she would remove the tape if she would return the baby to his crib. After returning her baby to the crib and changing his diaper, Badocdoc then reportedly left the nursery.

Pacula said that because she had so much to do, like charting and checking for laboratory tests of the babies, she was not able to remove the tape from Badocdoc’s son.

But just as she was about to endorse her records to the next shift at 11 a.m. the next day, Pacula claimed that when she checked on Badocdoc’s baby, the tape and the pacifier were gone.

“I felt troubled by this. I’m always concerned about how the people would see me after this incident. I don’t know why the parents are putting the blame on me,” she added.

But Badocdoc clarified that she never named Pacula since the controversy began because she was not sure if the latter had placed the tape on her baby.

On her part, Neri claimed that Badocdoc never mentioned the tape on the baby’s lips. Neri was the medication nurse at that time.

Neri said that while Badocdoc was in the nursery, she never reported the matter to her or to the midwife on duty.

Curiosity

But Badocdoc, for her part, said she was disappointed with the hospital staff’s insinuation that she had given her baby a pacifier and put a tape to hold it in place.

“Sinong nanay na nasa matinong pag-iisip ang plasteran ang anak niya? (No mother in her right mind would tape over her baby’s mouth.) It’s so disappointing that the people we entrusted with our kids’ safety would harm them,” said Badocdoc.

She also denied speculations that the photos she and her partner took of their baby were altered.

But Mercado clarified that they only want to check if the photos have time stamps to determine when these were taken.

The first photo, snapped with Badocdoc’s cell phone, was taken at 7:58 p.m. while the last one was taken at 8:08 p.m.

Mercado also revealed that Badocdoc was previously reprimanded by duty nurses at the nursery after she was caught taking pictures of a baby having her husband’s last name.

But Badocdoc explained that they entered the nursery as no one was there and she was curious if the baby may have been a relative of her husband’s.

Protection policy

Despite continuous prodding, officials of RSCWC failed to determine who placed the tape and the pacifier on the baby. The whereabouts of the tape and pacifier are also unknown.

Lawyer Dante Jadman, who chairs the inter-agency task force, has required the CPCMH to submit the footage of their closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras and their security logbook to determine what time Badocdoc arrived at the hospital.

The CCTV footage and the security logbook came to light after Badocdoc raised the matter to the inter-agency task force.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), a member of the inter-agency task force, also required the hospital to submit their child protection policy.

Mercado, for his part, said they were willing to submit all of the requirements sought by the RSCWC.

“The important thing is that we ferret out the truth,” the lawyer added. (Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 24, 2014.

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