SKIN RASH: Natasha Chan shows the rash on the back of her three-month-old son, Luke, yesterday in La Brea.

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Mom wants private care

‘Lung infection from breathing fumes’

By Stories by Kim Boodram

LA Brea resident Melissa Joseph, who was hospitalised last Friday after falling ill from oil spill fumes, yesterday claimed she was now battling a lung infection and wants State-owned Petrotrin to foot the bill for private care.

Joseph said yesterday she has been told by doctors at the Point Fortin Hospital that the inhalation of hydrocarbon fumes for almost three weeks has caused an infection of her lungs and left her dependent on a nebuliser for oxygen, until the infection clears.

The mother of three said she is worried about the long-term effects of the infection but is at this time more eager to get well enough to return home and care for her children.

“My children are being shuttled from house to house because they been unable to go to school and it is hard for my relatives,” Joseph said, speaking to the Express from her hospital bed.

The 29-year-old  is calling on Petrotrin to visit her and to make arrangements to have her moved to a private facility.

“I am very unhappy with the treatment I am getting from some of the nurses,” Joseph said.

“They are not very accommodating at all. I have been here for three days and nobody from the Government or Petrotrin has checked on me.

“I would like someone to come and talk to me and I would like to be moved.”

Joseph visited Petrotrin’s private hospital last Thursday, where she was treated with a nebuliser to bring her breathing back to normal.

On Friday, she visited the Point Fortin Hospital and was advised by a doctor to check in immediately, she said.

The Queen Street resident had previously had her children moved to save them from falling sick, as had happened to many children over the past three weeks.

The ordeal began for Coffee Beach a few days after a December 17 oil-fuel spill from a Petrotrin loading point at the Pointe-a-Pierre port. Residents awoke one morning to find their coast covered in oil, grounding the largely fishing community. 

 Joseph spoke to the Express by telephone  for a few minutes yesterday before having trouble breathing again.

“I can only talk right now because I was just on the nebuliser,” she said.

“I am in a lot of pain and  have been told that I have inflammation of the lungs, along with the infection. I’ve been advised by doctors to find somewhere else to stay until the fumes clear up, otherwise, I will keep getting sicker.”

Asked about Joseph’s condition during a press conference at Petrotrin’s Point-a-Pierre refinery yesterday, the company’s corporate communications manager, Gillian Friday, said the matter was being investigated and there was no further information at this time.

Another La Brea resident who became ill couldn’t quite articulate her pain yesterday.

For one-and-half- year-old Anastasia Modeste, the only way to express her discomfort was by screaming.

The child’s mother, Terrilisa, said a rash that has covered her daughter’s body, in what doctors have said is in allergic reaction, has worsened and is causing the child extreme discomfort.

“It is itching constantly,” Modeste said, showing daughter’s welted skin.

“I have to keep an eye on her because when she scratches it, it blisters and bleeds. That only makes her cry more.”

Modeste was yesterday afternoon preparing to return with Anastasia to the Point Fortin Hospital to seek relief for the child, who she said had been “screaming all day”.

 
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