A relative of the late Fitzgerald Jeffrey has condemned the manner in which his family learnt of his death last Saturday by a nurse at the Point Fortin Area Hospital.
The relative said the nurse told Jeffrey’s wife of his passing while she was driving, almost causing her to run off the road.
Jeffrey, the former MP for La Brea and High Commissioner to Jamaica, died at the hospital on September 19 a few days after he was admitted to decongest his lungs.
The relative, who wished to remain anonymous, said shortly before he died, Jeffrey spoke to his wife Julia to find out if she had already left their Vessigny home to visit him.
The relative said Julia told him she was on her way and he asked her to stop in at the bakery to get him a piece of pone and some other goodies.
“Shortly after that conversation, his wife gets a call while she is driving. The person on the other end identified herself as a nurse.
“She asks Julia if she is on the way to the hospital and Julia said yes.
“The nurse then tells her, ‘I hope you are walking with his identification card (ID)’.
“Julia asks why she needed his ID card to which the nurse replied, ‘So I could finish making up his death certificate.’
“The car nearly crashed. And that is not all, when they got to the hospital to finish making up the death certificate, nurses and doctors were saying, ‘we closing up yes. I feel like a blood clot may have shifted or something,'” the relative related a conversation Julia would have had as to his cause of death.
Sunday Newsday reached out to Jeffrey’s wife but got no response. His daughter Tehilia returned a message to call her but several attempts failed.
However, the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) which is in charge of the hospital confirmed the family did make a complaint about the treatment.
"The SWRHA commiserates with the relatives of the deceased Mr Fitzgerard Jeffery and thanks the former MP for his sterling service to the people of Trinidad and Tobago.
"Following a formal complaint made by the relatives of the deceased, the SWRHA immediately advanced a comprehensive investigation to better understand the circumstances and unearth the facts. As part of the ongoing investigation, the relatives have already been interviewed and will be kept abreast on the findings."
In her Facebook post, Tehilia, a doctor, also took issue with the treatment her father received at the hospital.
She also had a message to people who are desirous of entering the medical profession.
“It still was very unnecessary how he passed as not being given meds at hospital that were allotted to him by those who were to care for him, though he was ailing, ultimately quickened his death," she wrote.
“I urge all people going into the medical field or any field, if you are not passionate about what you want to do, don’t do it. Someone’s loved one will suffer sooner or later for that lack of care. One day it could be your mother, your sister, your son or YOU and you’d really want them to care. So please do what you actually love, what you really care to do," she said in her post.
Jeffrey an educator, who also served as a minister in the ministry of science technology and tertiary education (2007-2010), gave up his diplomatic posting when he was diagnosed with a severe lung condition. An urgent transplant costing US$1 million for surgery and post-lung transplant care was recommended.
His daughter denied earlier reports that he had died from lung cancer.
Jeffrey told Newsday earlier this year, he was first diagnosed with a severe blood clot to his lungs and one month later with pulmonary fibrosis.
Further tests done at the University of the West Indies Hospital, Mona, Jamaica, where he was receiving treatment, revealed he had stage-four pulmonary fibrosis.
He also told Newsday he had asked the government for help, although Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh when reached said he had not been approached by Jeffrey either directly or indirectly.
Jeffrey started a Go Fund Me page to finance his transplant but died before he was able to raise the money for treatment.
He said he believed his severe lung condition may have been caused by the December 17, 2013 oil spill from the former state-owned Petrotrin and the use of the dispersant Corexit 9500, said to be a cancer-causing agent, in the clean-up exercise.
La Brea MP and Labour Minister Stephen Mc Clashie last week extended condolences to Jeffrey's wife and family.
He said Jeffrey had given his entire life to public service and had a passion for youth development and education.
“Mr Jeffrey has undoubtedly served his constituency and this country with distinction, humility and integrity.
“Our country and the La Brea constituency is at a loss without him.”
To his wife and daughter, Mc Clashie said, “we thank you for lending him to us and we pray God’s continued strength in this difficult time.”
Councillor Gerald Debisette said the constituency has met with the family and final arrangements are being made for Jeffrey's funeral on October 3.
Debisette said the funeral will be held at the Vessigny Roman Catholic where he worshipped, following which he will be buried at the Brighton/Cato cemetery.