By Ana Perez, 10th Grade
The Hospital Materno Infantil San Lorenzo de Los Mina is one of the most famous – or rather infamous – hospitals in Santo Domingo, as it has been plagued with robberies and the death of newborns despite the 392 million Dominican pesos remodeling that then-president Danilo Medina announced in 2017 that was supposed to “help” the hospital. The hospital belongs to the Servicio Nacional de Salud, the Dominican Republic’s national health service. Despite the hospital’s expensive remodeling that was meant to improve its infrastructure, in the first quarter of 2023, 72 newborn babies have passed away – 34 of which happened just in the month of February.
In the first trimester of 2023, 1,949 babies were born in the hospital, 72 of which passed away. However, these death rates are similar to those of past years, as the death rate in 2019 was 35.8%, while in 2020 it was 31.9%, and in 2022 it was 29.4%. The director of the hospital, Leonardo Aquino, explains that the main causes of death in maternity are prematurity, respiratory distress, and infections.
34 deaths were reported in February. 5 of these deaths were related to septic shock, an external infection, a life-threatening condition where your blood drops to a dangerously low level after an infection; 35% of septic shock cases originate in a hospital. 6 deaths were due to a lung hemorrhage, which causes bleeding in the lungs; this mainly occurs in premature newborns. 7 deaths were due to complex congenital heart disease, which refers to heart defects present at birth, since the heart does not develop properly in the wound. 75% of babies born with congenital heart disease are expected to make it one year, while 69% are expected to survive until adulthood. 4 deaths were due to perinatal asphyxia, which is a lack of blood flow or gas exchange to or from the fetus in the birth process. One death was due to Meconium Aspiration Syndrome, which occurs when a newborn breathes a mixture of meconium and amniotic fluid into the lungs around the time of delivery; this causes severe illness in 5% – 10% of births. 2 deaths were caused by neonatal sepsis, an infection involving the bloodstream on infants less than 28 days old, although the infection is curable with treatment. One death was due to second-degree burns. 4 were related to Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation, a rare but serious illness that leads to abnormal blood clotting in the blood vessels. And another 4 deaths were related to Respiratory Distress Syndrome, which often occurs with premature babies whose lungs are not fully developed.
In 2022, there were 8,562 births at the hospital, 1,442 of which required intensive care. This means that Maternidad de Los Mina is the hospital that takes care of the most intensive and dangerous births in the area. The death rate at the hospital for newborn babies is 29.4% – 36.9%. The death rate for children under 28 days old is the highest, with 18 deaths per 1,000 live births. With these statistics, we could assume that Los Mina would have approximately 144 deaths for their 8,000 births, yet in 2022, they only went through 52 deaths.
Yet, seeing that these 72 deaths were just in the first trimester of 2023, there is a reason to be worried. Some of the diseases mentioned above are curable with treatment, and it seems some originated in the hospital, so Maternidad Los Mina could be responsible for a sizable portion of these premature deaths. There have been claims of the Director of the Neonatology Department altering the death data for the newborns to improve the hospital’s statistics, but at the moment, this is speculation. While the Director of Los Mina and the Director of Neonatology were fired on April 19, there is no concrete evidence pointing to the alteration of data, although the President of the Colegio Médico Dominicano did state that those at the hospital “mistrust the data that the Director can offer at this time and we know why we say so. I do not believe in the data that the Director can show us.”
An investigation regarding the death rate at the hospital is currently underway as public officials have called the situation “serious and problematic.” There have been calls for other public hospitals to be included in the investigation.
- Fernández, C. (2023, April 20). SNS sacude la mata tras la muerte de 72 bebés en Maternidad de Los Mina – Diario Libre. Diario Libre. https://www.diariolibre.com/actualidad/salud/2023/04/20/sns-sacude-la-mata-tras-muertes-en-maternidad-los-mina/2290501
- Jiménez, J. a. V. (2023, April 18). Maternidad de Los Mina: en primer trimestre de 2023 muere más del 35% de recién nacidos. Hoy Digital. https://hoy.com.do/trimestre-de-2023-muere-35-de-recien-nacidos-los-mina/
- Fernández, C. (2023a, April 19). Cancelan al director de la Maternidad de Los Mina y encargada de Neonatología – Diario Libre. Diario Libre. https://www.diariolibre.com/actualidad/salud/2023/04/19/destituyen-al-director-de-la-maternidad-de-los-mina/2289902