After nearly 40 years of waiting and having to endure rapidly deteriorating physical and mental health that included suicide attempts, a final injury settlement for a former Government-paid nurse is likely by year-end.
This was disclosed today by legal counsel for Coral Wilkinson, Sir Richard Cheltenham, Q.C., who also said he was preparing a letter today to send to Attorney General Dale Marshall requesting an interim payout of some $30,000 that should assist the incapacitated ex-healthcare worker with home help and other necessities.
Sir Richard told Barbados TODAY the documented claim for the final compensatory payment was in the works for submission to the Attorney General’s Office earlier this year, but had to be placed on hold when Wilkinson was hospitalized for several weeks.
“Coral’s matter is about to be closed. Coral took sick and was hospitalized until recently. Resulting from that, I needed an updated medical report. The doctor who saw her when she was in hospital was good enough to give me an updated report. I have a letter here written only this morning asking Dale (Marshall) if he could give me an advance of $30,000 to make sure she can pay her daily support until the matter is closed, hopefully by the end of the year,” Sir Richard stated.
“I have struggled with her all of these years and I am trying to bring closure to her matter. I am hoping to bring closure by the end of the year. If indeed there is any delay, I am writing Dale to ask if they could give her just a small interim of $25-30 000 so that I can make sure, along with her children, any help she has to bring in she could pay the help and at the same time make sure she has foodstuff in the house,” the recently-retired President of the Senate said.
He explained that partial payments have been made.
“She has had interims along the way The last big interim she got was over a quarter of a million dollars. The reason why the final claim has not gone to the Attorney General’s Office, and they have requested it, is because I could not go ahead until I got a final medical report which only came in about a fortnight ago,” he explained.
Sir Richard rejected any notion that little was being done by him to speed up the process of closing the case which arose out of incident in which Wilkinson fell and sustained back injuries while on duty at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in April 1981.
“It isn’t that nothing is being done for her. I am sympathetic because she has been through so much. She has been to the UK twice on Government money and even when on the second occasion it was indicated earlier that there was little that they [doctors] could do for her, she still insisted on going. I could see that anyone who is sick and there is any hope, even if it is a distant hope, would take it,” he reasoned.
However, Wilkinson told Barbados TODAY this afternoon she can’t take the pain and suffering any longer.
“I had a massive stroke in February this year. I was not supposed to live or I was going to be quadriplegic. When I came out of hospital I called Sir [Sir Richard]. I talked to him in April and he told me my case is going to be finished in three months, end of August. It takes about nearly $6,000 a month to pay for nurse, pampers, the whole works.”
The former nurse explained that she has spoken to her lawyer in the first week in September and then on the 17th.. when he told her he would find something to give me “to tide me over” and that Government doesn’t have any money to pay me and this case would have to go into next year again,” Wilkinson stated.
She said her stroke was not the result of financial pressure but “strictly from years of depression, anxiety, stress and panic attacks”.
“One doctor even told my daughter that this stroke your mother has is not the average stroke. I did not have any bleeding in my head or nothing so,” she added.
Meanwhile, the former QEH nurse said she presently has six discs out of place in her back and screws implanted in her back from a surgery in 1998 intended to stabilize a shaky spine due to constantly falling at home.
Wilkinson, who said she has been seeing a psychiatrist for the past 19 years, will also require a battery to be surgically placed in her back to stimulate the nerve to produce feeling, physiotherapy until the day of her death and a caregiver considering she is now unable to bath and dress herself.
She revealed that once she got her final payout to assist with further surgery in the UK, she would have to return to England for critical follow up treatment every six months.
Wilkinson said her physical disability which has forced her to use a walker continues to cause unbearable pain.
She said that since her stroke this year, she cannot now take care of herself and once the home help nurse finishes her 8 am to 4 pm duties, she has to keep on soiled pampers until she returns the following morning.
“I need to have a nurse from at least 8 in the morning until 9 at night because she can’t steep in here with me. So I need to have a nurse from 8 in the morning and change shift until 9 at night because when I wet in the night it means I have to stay in that condition until the next morning,” Wilkinson lamented. [email protected]