HARLINGEN, Texas. USA (AP) — US Border Patrol medical personnel have refused to review the chart of an 8-year-old girl with a chronic heart condition and a rare blood disorder before she reportedly had a seizure and died. on the ninth day in custody, he found an internal investigation.
The Office of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has said that the parents of the Panamanian girl shared the medical history with the authorities on May 10, a day after the family was taken into custody.
But a nurse practitioner refused to review the girl’s paperwork the day she died, CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility said in its initial statement Thursday about the May 17 death. The nurse practitioner reported denying three or four ambulance requests from the girl’s mother.
The day before she died, Anadith Tanay Reyes Alvarez presented with a fever of 40.5 degrees Celsius (104.9 Fahrenheit), according to the report.
A video surveillance system at the Harlingen, Texas, station has been out of service since April 13, a violation of federal law that prevented the collection of evidence, according to the Office of Professional Responsibility, similar to the internal affairs office of police. The system was flagged for repair, but it was fixed only on May 23, six days after the girl’s death.
Still, the report drew on interviews with Border Patrol agents and contracted medical personnel to raise a number of disturbing new questions about what went wrong during the girl’s nine days in custody, which far exceeded the limit of 72 hours established by the agency itself.
The investigators did not provide any explanation for the decisions the medical staff made and appeared to be at a loss for words.
“Despite the girl’s condition, her mother’s concerns, and the series of treatments necessary to manage her condition, contracted medical personnel did not transfer her to a hospital for higher-level care,” the Office of Professional Responsibility said. .
Acting CBP Commissioner Troy Miller said the initial investigation “provides important new information about this tragic death” and reaffirmed recent steps, including a review of all “medically fragile” cases in custody to ensure they are out of custody. as soon as possible. The average time in custody has been cut by more than half for families in two weeks, he said.
“(This death) was a deeply disturbing and unacceptable tragedy. We can – and will – do better to make sure this never happens again,” added Miller.
Anadith entered Brownsville, Texas, with her parents and two older siblings on May 9 as daily illegal crossings topped 10,000 as migrants scrambled to beat the end of pandemic-related restrictions to apply for asylum.
She was diagnosed with the flu on May 14 at a temporary detention center in Donna, Texas, and moved with her family to Harlingen. Staff had about nine encounters with Anadith and her mother over the next four days at the Harlingen station leading up to her death from concerns that included high fever, flu-like symptoms, nausea and shortness of breath. She was given medication, a cold compress and a cold shower, according to the Office of Professional Responsibility.
A court-appointed monitor raised concerns in January about the chronic conditions of children with fragile health conditions who are unable to communicate with Border Patrol personnel.
Dr. Paul H. Wise, a Stanford University professor of pediatrics who was in South Texas last week to investigate the circumstances surrounding what he said was a “preventable” death, said there should be no doubt in send sick children to the hospital, especially those with chronic conditions.
Mabel Alvarez Benedicks, Anadith’s mother, told The Associated Press that she told staff about her daughter’s conditions, which included sickle cell anemia, and repeatedly called for medical help and an ambulance to take her daughter to a hospital, but was told not to. They denied until the minor was unconscious.
Karla Marisol Vargas, an attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project representing the family, said Border Patrol agents refused requests for medication until the day the girl died.
“They refused to review the documents that showed the diseases that their daughter had,” Vargas said.
The family lives with relatives in New York City while funeral arrangements are made.
Elliot Spagat in San Diego contributed to this report.