New Brunswick

Baby needed more care than Miramichi hospital provided, says mom

After days watching their infant son struggle to breathe and fearing he might die, Mallory Stewart and Kyle Godin demanded more be done to help him.

Young mother urges other parents to take control when children need treatment

Mallory Stewart says her son Karsen was sent to the IWK for treatment at her request after his condition worsened at the Miramichi Regional Hospital. (Submitted by Mallory Stewart)

After days watching their infant son struggle to breathe and fearing he might die, Mallory Stewart and Kyle Godin demanded more be done to help him.

Two-month-old Karsen Godin had been admitted to the Miramichi Regional Hospital three days before with the respiratory syncytial virus, often called RSV.

He was admitted on a Monday after the young family's third visit to the emergency room. 

Stewart says she is angry at the level of care her son received at the hospital.

"I watched him turn purple, his stats were dropping significantly, he literally could not breathe and it was taking everything in him to breathe," she said.

"I thought my baby was going to die."

Common cold

While RSV is common in adults, it can can be serious in babies and young children. It is a common cause of lower respiratory tract infections in young children.

Mallory Stewart stands at her two-month-old son's beside at the IWK, where he was treated for a partially collapsed lung and respiratory syncytial virus. (Mallory Stewart)
Stewart said the medicated mist Karsen got every four hours in the pediatrics unit did little to help and was stopped on the second day. Doctors told the parents the RSV had to go away on its own.

An X-ray taken the first day had doctors thinking the baby may have had pneumonia. One doctor said the child would likely be ready to go home that Wednesday. But Stewart said her son's condition just got worse.

The parents said they asked, then demanded that Karsen be sent to the IWK Children's Hospital in Halifax.

Karsen was airlifted that night after being intubated.

After an X-ray at the IWK, medical staff found one of the baby's lungs had partially collapsed, Stewart said.

"He was intubated and sedated for six days and he had a feeding tube the whole time," she said. 

"We're home now and every thing's good but it was quite the scare."

Made complaints

Stewart has filed complaints with the hospital about what happened and contacted MLAs Lisa Harris and Bill Fraser, who represent Miramichi ridings.

Marilyn Underhill, the executive director at the Miramichi Hospital said, said Stewart's complaints are being investigated.

"Horizon Health Network takes the concerns of our patients and their families seriously," she said. "Our patient representative has reached out to the family to discuss their situation. We will continue to investigate the matter and will follow up with the family."

Stewart said she has heard from the patient representative but questions why more wasn't done for Karsen sooner.

"I never left his side," the first-time mother said. "I never slept for days until we got to the IWK. I thought he was going to die, honestly."

Three visits

Stewart, who lives in Sunny Corner, 28 kilometres from Miramichi, said she and her husband took their sick son to the emergency room three times in four days before he was admitted March 13.

On the first visit, a swab was taken for RSV and the parents learned on the second visit, a Saturday, that the test was positive.

But Stewart said they were sent home again and told to watch their son's breathing.

Mallory Stewart says her son Karsen was intubated and sedated for six days after he was transferred to the IWK from the Miramichi hospital. (Submitted by Mallory Stewart)
By Monday, with the baby's breathing getting worse, the parents went back to the hospital. Stewart said she felt some relief after Karsen was admitted.

But she said that relief soon grew to frustration and fear as his condition worsened.

Once home from Halifax, Stewart said, she felt she had to share her story so other parents wouldn't go through the same thing. She posted it to Facebook along with photos of her sick son and video showing his laboured breathing.

"We just [want] parents to realize if you don't think they are doing the right treatment, you need to keep demanding. If we didn't keep demanding then Karsen would not be here."