Mexico fires hospital head for waiting room birth

AP News
Posted: Oct 11, 2013 4:54 PM

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican authorities on Friday fired the director of a hospital where a woman gave birth in a waiting room, an incident that prompted outrage when video of it was widely shared on social media sites.

The Puebla state government said it removed Dr. Jose Hassan as head of the Women's Hospital of Tehuacan because he didn't let authorities know about the Sept. 7 incident. The federal Health Department and the National Commission of Human Rights are launching their own investigations, too.

It's the second recent internet scandal in Mexico about treatment of pregnant women. Officials this week suspended a Oaxaca state clinic's director after a photo circulated of an indigenous woman who was denied help and gave birth on the lawn of the health center.

In the Puebla hospital, authorities have not revealed the identity of the woman and the baby and have only said they were discharged in good health after a short time in observation.

In the video, spread by local media sites, the husband of the woman complains right after the baby is born that they have been waiting since the previous night for the wife to be admitted and that they had warned the receptionists her pains were growing stronger. The nurse holding the baby tells him he has the right to be upset, but "we are short staffed and there are tons of patients."

Before the video was posted on a news site early Friday, the photograph of a Mazatec woman giving birth on the lawn of a clinic had horrified people all across Mexico.

Irma Lopez, 29, said she and her husband walked an hour and arrived to the health center in San Felipe Jalapa de Diaz at 6 a.m. on Oct. 2, only to be turned down by the only nurse there who told them she was only eight months pregnant and "still not ready" to deliver. An hour and a half later, Lopez gave birth to her third child and the photo taken by a passer-by has appeared on the front pages of national newspapers. It also brought to light another case in July, where an indigenous woman also gave birth outside the same clinic, according to the village's health official

"The new information technologies that people are actively using allow us to know about these irregularities and take the appropriate measures," said the Health Department in its Friday statement.

Both cases are highlighting the shortcomings of maternal care in Mexico, where hundreds of women, mostly in poor and rural areas, still die during or right after pregnancy. Activists and nonprofit organizations are demanding better access to health care to poor women.