BUFFALO (NY) WKBW — The heartbroken mother of the 16-month-old boy, who died by suffocation in 2015 at the HighPointe on Michigan Health Care Facility, is sharing her story.
"It hurts...it hurts," declared Latifa Johnson, Buffalo mother.
New York’s Attorney General has reached a Medicaid settlement that will see Kaleida Health pay a half-million dollars in restitution.
It has also added staff and increased supervision on the pediatric floor. But the baby’s mother has filed a lawsuit against Kaleida.
“And he wasn't getting the care that they told me he was receiving, and it hurts,” said Johnson.
Johnson’s 16-month old son Jameir Ben was transferred from Women and Children’s Hospital to HighPointe in the winter of 2015 to avoid cold and flu season, but he would never come home.
Jameir was a triplet, born premature. He suffered complications and was on a feeding tube.
33 days after he was admitted to HighPointe, he suffocated after being left alone while on a feeding-tub in a highchair.
“It’s a tragedy to me that my son had to be the example for them to do the right thing. It's a real tragedy, but I am hoping and praying that no other family will ever have to go through this situation,” Johnson remarked.
The attorney for Johnson says HighPointe's pediatric floor was not staffed properly and didn’t use a monitoring system that would have notify the nursing staff the baby was in distress.
“I think it's clear from the findings that day after day, they found insufficient care and that continued. Fortunately, now they've tried to put a system in place and have agreed to put a system in place - where hopefully that daily care improves,” explained Mike Scinta, attorney with Brown Chiari.
Scinta represents Johnson in her lawsuit. The AG’s report says the infant could not hold his head up without artificial support and did not have the ability to clear his throat or call for help.
“I hope that they really care. I hope that the people who work on the unit actually takes their time with these babies and gives them the care they need,” Johnson said.
Kaleida released a statement Tuesday in response to the Medicaid settlement saying in part “safe and reliable care is at the core of all that we do."
Johnson’s case is expected to go to trial sometime early next year.
The suit seeks damages for the suffering the infant sustained and punitive damages for conduct at Highpointe.
Johnson said her baby spent half of his short life hospitalized due to complications as a preemie. She said when he first arrived at Highpointe the staff was very nice and had gifts for her baby.
Her attorney also noted there is a 67-second surveillance video of the facility area where the child was located, but Johnson tells 7 Eyewitness News she doesn’t want to watch the video.
Johnson offers advice to other parents who have an ill child that is hospitalized. She suggests you visit every day.
“If you can’t make it, have a family member make it – every single day – that would be the best advice I have,” Johnson stated.
As for the two sisters born triplets with their brother, Johnson says the loss of her son has been difficult for both girls who are now six years old. She takes them to visit his grave-site.
“They miss their brother every single day – every single day there’s not a day that goes by that my babies don’t mention their brother and they really don’t understand where their brother is. They know he’s in heaven, but they think that one day he can come home, so it’s going to take a couple of years for them to understand,” Johnson replied.