According to a CBP Office of Professional Responsibility report, as an 8-year-old migrant girl was dying in U.S. custody, medical staff denied repeated requests from the girl's mother for an ambulance. File Photo by Allison Dinner/EPA-EFE
June 2 (UPI) -- Clinicians will be deployed to multiple Customs and Border Patrol sites next week after the agency reported that medical staff at a facility in Texas repeatedly refused requests for an ambulance from a mother whose 8-year-old daughter died in its custody.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will send United States Public Health Service uniformed clinicians to "multiple CBP sites" following the report surrounding the girl's death, CBP Acting Commissioner Troy Miller said.
"These USPHS Commissioned Corps clinicians will work under the direction of the Department's Office of Health Security to provide this additional medical guidance and oversight capability," Miller said.
The CBP Office of Professional Responsibility report said a nurse practitioner at the border patrol detention facility "reported denying three or four requests from the girl's mother for an ambulance to be called or for her to be taken to the hospital."
The girl had a fever that peaked at 104.9 degrees and had complained of difficulty breathing, stomach pain and nausea.
"Despite the girl's condition, her mother's concerns, and the series of treatments required to manage her condition, contracted medical personnel did not transfer her to a hospital for higher-level care," the report said.
The girl and her mother arrived at the Harlingen U.S. Border Patrol Station May 14. Medical staff there reported nine encounters with the girl and her mother related to fever, flu-like symptoms and pain.
The girl was treated with Tamiflu, fever-reducing medications, ice packs and a cold shower. On the day she died the girl was seen four times by a nurse practitioner.
The mother made repeated requests for an ambulance to transport her daughter to a hospital, but was denied.
Shortly after the fourth visit, the CBP OPR report said, the mother returned with the child in her arms appearing to be having a seizure. The girl became unresponsive.
Emergency medical services were requested and the girl was finally transported to Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen, where she was declared dead at 2:50 p.m. May 17.
None of the U.S. Border Patrol contracted medical personnel who had contact with the girl "acknowledged being aware she suffered from sickle cell anemia or had a history of congenital heart disease."
"The contracted medical personnel failed to document numerous medical encounters, emergency antipyretic interventions, and administrations of medicine," the report said.
CBP said the report was "based largely on interviews" of Border Patrol Agents and contracted personnel who interacted with the family as the closed-circuit television recording system at the station was not functioning at the time.
And a review of CBP records revealed the camera system at Harlingen Station was flagged for repair/replacement on April 13, but still was not functioning during the time the girl and her mother were in custody.
Miller said the girl's death "was a deeply upsetting and unacceptable tragedy."
"We can -- and we will -- do better to ensure this never happens again," he said.