‘Taped’ baby comes home; father says nurse’s lapse shows need ‘to fix the system’
His newborn son is home from the hospital but bicycle activist Ryan Noval isn’t finished with what he calls his “quest for justice.”
Appearing before the Cebu City Council yesterday, the father of the infant said he’s prepared to cooperate with the maternity hospital in its investigation of nursing staff who taped his baby’s upper lip to quiet the child, and to help correct similar lapses in the nursing profession.
“The lesson here is that even though I went through something bad with my son, I’m still here to find that silver lining to fix things, with the government and social media,” said Noval.
His Facebook photos of baby Yohannes in the nursery with his upper mouth taped from ear to ear has stirred outrage in forums from the national TV talk show of Boy Abunda and Kris Aquino to the Huffington Post.
Public anger is focused on perceived child abuse although it was later shown that the tape was used to hold in place a pacifier that fell off.
With his long hair in dreadlocks tied in a blue bandana and his slang American English, Noval drew more than the usual attention.
He showed up alone in the session hall of the City Council, after Councilor Leah Japson gave a privilege speech condeming the “inhuman” conduct of the still unidentified nurse who handled a crying baby Yohannes.
Noval was born in Cebu but moved to California as a teenager where he’s lived for 25 years.
He founded the bikers group Critical Mass Cebu, which advocates bicycles as ideal transportation for a pollution-free city, and has friends in the Movement for a Liveable Cebu and city councilors who are pushing for a bike lane ordinance.
Noval, who repairs and sells fixed gear bicycles, lives with the baby’s mother in Cebu City. Yohannes is their third child.
An in-house investigation has pinpointed three nurses on duty in the Cebu Puericulture and Maternity House Inc. where officials assured Noval they would sanction the staff involved.
The private hospital also risks being sanctioned by the Department of Health for violating a breast-feeding policy that prohibits the use of pacifiers for babies.
Noval said he hopes his experience opens the eyes of the public about the need to address lapses in the medical industry, since nurses are the country’s “main export to the world”.
He said it was unfortunate that some medical practitioners don’t give patients their “due respect” because of the way they look or speak.
Citing himself as an example, he said it was only when he opened his mouth to speak, that hospital staff took him seriously when he complained about the handling of his baby.
Noval moved to Cebu City four years ago.
“Those 25 years (in the US) made me a smarter person despite my looks. I just wanted to point that out because most likely some of the people admitted inside the hospital did not get their due respect because of their looks and how they spoke. When I spoke in English na igking sila (they were on their toes),” he told the council.
“People say inglishero man dia ni si Dodong, but I am not a child. I am aware of the issues and problems,” Noval said forcefully.
After much publicity over the baby, Noval asked the media to “please stay outside” and said he put notices in social media to remind others that he and his family have feelings to consider.
In his latest Facebook post, he showed a photo of him and his baby, with a note of thanks.
“Thanks to all that supported us on our quest for justice, we are still in the midst of due process to correct the system’s faulty ways of treating children behind closed doors. Yohannes is finally home with us, safe and sound at this particular moment….he’s got no comments.”
Councilor Japson, who called the nursery’s handling of the five-day-old baby as “inhuman”, said the incident was contrary to Cebu City’s image as a good health care destination with state-of-the-art hospitals.
She worried that the city’s reputation was besmirched by the wide publicity of the case, and viral exposure on social media.
She said the nurse should be condemned and a criminal complaint for child abuse should be filed against her.
The council approved Japson’s resolutions calling for an investigation by the Cebu Maternity Hospital and the Philippine Nurses Association , and for the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) to assist the baby’s family if they decide to sue the nurse responsible and hospital management.
Councilor Gerardo Carillo suggested passing an ordinance to protect the rights of patients from abuse and medical malpractice since “this is not an isolated incident.”
He cited the 2008 “Black Suede” scandal, where a video was circulated of camera phone images of operating room staff in the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center laughing as they removed a cannister of perfume form the rectum of a male patient who was lying unconscious.
Carillo said it may be premature to condemn the maternity nurse who handled baby Yohannes since a hospital investigation is ongoing.
He said Noval was a friend and fellow bike enthusiast.
The council was about to wrap up floor disussion when Noval walked in.
Councilors decided to suspend their house rules so that he could speak at the podium.
“I experienced something bad with my family and it’s not always easy to just find that silver lining,” he said. / WIth Gerriane Rizon, UP Cebu intern
Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of Cebudailynews. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.