Jasmine Smallwood is trying to figure out how to move forward without 2-year-old foster daughter, Alana Tate.
“How I go from having a whole baby, clothes, toys, all of this stuff to now a box? It don’t make sense,” says Smallwood.
Smallwood got emergency residential custody of Alana earlier this year. Smallwood says the child had a number of health and developmental issues, and she took her in as her own daughter. Smallwood adds that Alana already felt like family to her because she knew the biological mother.
Now that Alana is no longer here, Smallwood says it has been tough.
“It’s hard being here, I can’t be here. I haven’t been home,” says Smallwood crying.
Smallwood and her family have not been back to her Fordham Heights apartment in the Bronx since Alana died on Nov. 8 at SBH Health – St. Barnabas. Smallwood says it’s hard to go back to her home with her little one not there.
“There was a lot of progress that was happening with her and for her to be taken from us, it’s hurts,” Smallwood says.
In October, Alana had surgery at a hospital in Queens to get a gastrostomy tube. Two weeks post-operation, on Nov 7, it popped out. Doctors informed Smallwood that was normal, and to go to a nearby emergency room if that happened.
“The surgery was under 10 weeks, so they said to go to the hospital to make sure that the g-tube is in the right spot. They had to do an X-ray, a swoosh test,” says Smallwood, explaining the steps she had to take.
Smallwood says when it came out, she flagged down NYPD officers on the road, and she asked to be taken to Montefiore. However, they had to take her to the nearest emergency room, and that was St. Barnabas.
The beginning of a 24-hour nightmare.
Smallwood says when she first got to St. Barnabas, she encountered a resident doctor who says they were not familiar with putting in a g-tube. So, she asked to be transferred to Montefiore. However, a supervising doctor came in.
Smallwood says she had the g-tube in her hand that came out of her foster daughter and told the doctors what size was needed. She says they went to check to see what they had and returned with a larger g-tube. She told them it was too big.
Smallwood claims the doctor said it was fine and proceeded to guide the resident doctor in putting in the g-tube. The foster mom said the resident doctor was poking Alana multiple times trying to get it in. Finally, the supervising doctor assisted to get it in, and sent Alana for an X-ray before sending them home.
“When I picked up Alana – she let out a scream I was not comfortable with,” says Smallwood recalling what happened that night.
The following day on Nov 8, a registered nurse did a home visit. Then hours later, Alana was rushed back to St. Barnabas after she passed out at home.
“I went to get help and you ended up killing her,” Smallwood says.
Alana was pronounced dead that night.
News 12 obtained her death certificate from the family. It states she died from Peritonitis Complicating Misplacement of Percutaneous Gastric Tube for Treatment of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease.
According to Smallwood, when Alana was getting her g-tube re-inserted, a hole was created in her stomach due to it being misplaced, ultimately causing the contents of the stomach to leak into the abdomen.
News 12 spoke with Adam C. Weiss, an attorney at Lever and Ecker PLLC, about what people should do if they find themselves in a similar situation
“If necessary, reach out to the administration of the hospital, the social worker or whoever it may be who can advocate on your behalf as well to make sure you are getting the care that you need and deserve,” says Weiss.
Weiss says getting the administration involved can help if things take a distressing turn.
“Adding that extra layer with the administration or a social worker, you are creating that paper trail. You are documenting your complaints should anything go array; you have that, of course, as a fall back.”
Smallwood says a big piece of her family’s heart is missing, and have yet to get answers.
“How do you cope with losing a child? And it’s at the hands of doctors?” questions Smallwood.
“Ya’ll treated Alana and made her the patient of a classroom and now she’s just a memory.”
When News 12 reached out to SBH Health system requesting comment on this story, they responded, “SBH Health system will politely decline to comment.”
News 12 is told Alana’s biological parents are looking into taking legal action against the hospital.