Liberia: JFK Administration Apologizes to House Over Leaked Rep. Nagbe Sloh’s Photograph

According to the Deputy Administrator of JFK, Dama Yekeson Koffa, the photo making rounds on social may have been taken by a male identified as George Sloh, who accompanied the late Rep. Sloh to the hospital.

Capitol Hill, Monrovia – The administration of the John F. Kennedy Memorial Medical Center has openly apologized to the House of Representatives for the leaked photographs of late Representative Jay Nagbe Sloh while he sought treatment at the hospital.

The late Rep. Sloh (District #2, Sinoe County) died at the hospital on June 30, 2020 following a brief illness.

But in the wake of his death, photographs of him lying unconsciously on the hospital bed at the JFK began circulating on Facebook, much to the dismay of several lawmakers.

One of lawmakers, Rep. Thomas Goshua (District #5, Grand Bassa County), wrote Plenary and requested that the House invites the hospital’s management to explain how their fallen colleague’s photos went viral on social media.

Rep. Goshua also called on the management to explain its privacy protocols at the hospital.

The Plenary, in its 37th day sitting on Thursday, July 2, granted Goshua’s request through a motion filed by Rep. Clarence Massaquoi (District #3, Lofa County) and invited the hospital’s authorities, along with nurses who attended to their late colleague to a meeting with the House’s leadership.

In the meeting held on Monday, July 6 at the Capitol, the Hospital’s Administration led by its Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jerry Brown, expressed regret over the action and promised to launch an internal investigation to ascertain what went wrong and to put in place measures to curb a recurrence.

“We must admit that with the display of such an Honorable individual photo on the social media, as I said from the beginning when we started, we greatly regret that,” Dr. Brown apologized.

“We were disturbed when we saw that picture ourselves. We are again saying it is a breach of our policy and we highly regret it. We are sorry. We will do the best we can to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.”

What Went Wrong?

According to the Deputy Administrator of JFK, Dama Yekeson Koffa, the photo making rounds on social may have been taken by a male identified as George Sloh, who accompanied the late Rep. Sloh to the hospital.

Mrs. Koffa alleged that George Sloh, who claimed to be a son of Rep. Sloh, was caught photographing the deceased by a nurse, who was attending to deceased.

The nurse, Gifty Bernard, said she immediately requested him to delete the photo and told him it was prohibited to photograph in the medical ward, and he consented to delete the photos and apologized.

Earlier, nurse Bernard, in her explanation, said Rep. Sloh was accompanied by several relatives including George, who submitted the referral note from the medical facility the deceased had earlier sought treatment.

But Rep. Thomas Goshua (Distrit #5, Grand Bassa County) who authored the communication that led to the appearance of the hospital’s management appeared not to be convinced.

He questioned that if the photograph was taken while the later Sloh was being attended to by a nurse, then why the nurse was not captured in the photo?

The nurse, responding, said the particular photo may have been deleted by George Sloh but because of the emergency situation, on several occasions, relatives were left alone with the lawmaker in the room while nurses fetched medication to treat him.

And probably, it was on one of those occasions that they managed to photograph the lawmaker and shared to social media.  

The lawmakers were not still convinced with the nurse’s accounts and requested the hospital’s administration to state its privacy and confidentiality policy.

The Deputy Administrator, Mrs. Koffa, who happens to be the wife of Rep. J. Fonati Koffa (District #2, Grand Kru County), stated that there are strict privacy and confidentiality rules at JFK that prohibits photographing and relatives from seen patients when it is not the designated visiting hour.

However, because of the lawmaker’s status and his ‘grave’ condition, she ordered the nurses not to stop any relative from entering the Intensive Care Unit (ICU)

“When we are providing care to patients, and when it entails exposing the patient, in any way, shape or form, we primarily ask family members to leave,” she explained.

“An exception was done in this case, primarily because of the status in which the Honorable was brought into the facility was very grave. There were many members of the House of Representatives that came in, there were other family members that identified themselves as partner, son and other relatives of the Honorable that we allowed into the premise.”

“We transferred him up to the Critical Care Unit and I was present when we accepted the Honorable into that room. We ensured that the family was present, and I made sure to mention to the rest of the staff that at no point in time should we ask anyone to leave which was normally what we do.”

For her part, Rep. Rustonlyn Suacoco Dennis (District #4, Montserrado County) blamed the management for negligence and stated that their action was tantamount to discourage lawmakers and other officials from seeking treatment at the facility.

Others, including Samuel Kogar (District #5, Montserrado County), Francis Nyumalin of Lofa County and Rep. Isaac B. Roland of Maryland County blamed the hospital management for what they termed as negligence.