EDITORIAL: Medically Injured Moms Deserve to be Heard

Bedside manner is more than soothing palliatives, it is patient respect and continuity of care

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Sometimes news includes topics we’d rather not hear about—news that angers us—scares us—forces us to sit up, take notice and act.

Nowhere is this conversation more important than at the Guam Memorial Hospital. Every day good men and women relentlessly work to save lives, restore health and bring comfort to the sick.

But no system is perfect. And where a system’s failure may be, those stories must be a part of our conversation also.

A week ago, we brought you the gut-wrenching story of Alissa Nededog. For nearly two months, Alissa, mother of new born baby Aiden, had been a patient at GMH, unable to hold her son or care for her 3-year-old daughter.

According to Alissa, after returning home from a c-section, she collapsed. Upon being re-admitted to GMH, Alissa says no prognosis or clear cause could be found. This incident caused Alissa to acquire a serious infection. According to Alissa and her family, the aggressive antibiotics used to fight this infection, and the seven CT scans she’s had to monitor her progress and find a cause have ruined her veins and caused her hair to fall out.

Then, after nearly a month of painstaking tests, she was informed that her lower intestine was accidentally cut during her c-section.

In recent days, PNC has been criticized for our coverage of Alissa’s story and stories like it. Our critics allege that covering these stories promotes a sense of panic in our community.

They argue that we shouldn’t cover stories like Alissa’s without the appropriate medical training or context. They believe that only a medical professional can understand and therefore communicate these stories to each of you.

We don’t work for them. But we do work for people like Alissa—women who want answers and can’t get them. People who have no power except the power of their personal stories.

PNC has tried to speak with hospital officials, physicians and critics alike. We want—and need—to bring you their side of the story as well.

Unfortunately, much like these mothers, we haven’t been able to get the answers to our burning questions.

Think about that for a second. If the people in power won’t respond to island media, if they feel they have the privilege to avoid answering questions from those who bring you the news, what chance did Alissa have?

What chance would you have?

Silencing her story would hurt her a second time. It would tell her that she didn’t matter and that message would hurt us all.

This is why journalism exists—to amplify your voice in our community’s conversations. It also exists to tell both sides of the story. But that can’t happen if those involved won’t speak publicly.

Fear is dispelled by facts. Panic happens when there are no answers. And no one is served by silence for the sake of a more comfortable conversation.