Medical intern remembered as confident

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“LOL work mi deh man. On for the night. Pace slow.”

This message, sent at 3:54 pm on Wednesday, August 12, would be the last communication Dr Yakeev Morris, a medical intern at the Annotto Bay Hospital in St Mary.

It was posted to the Taylor Hall Block A – Stallion Republic WhatsApp group.

His message was in response to a query about whether he was at work, as he was actively discussing the UEFA Champions League quarter-final match between Atlanta and Paris, which was ongoing at the time.

A few hours later, at 6:50 pm, Dr Morris was pronounced dead.

According to the North East Regional Health Authority (NERHA), Dr Morris was accompanying a clinical team with a transfer of a neonate from the paediatric ward of the Annotto Bay Hospital to Bustamante Hospital for Children in Kingston when he complained of feeling unwell and dizziness. He subsequently collapsed and was unresponsive.

According to the report from NERHA, he was immediately taken to the Accident and Emergency Department and, despite every effort by the medical team to resuscitate him, he did not regain consciousness.

Nicholas James, former Taylor Hall chairman at The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, told the Jamaica Observer that the death of Dr Morris, affectionately called Foska by his Taylor Hall peers, was difficult to accept.

“It is the second time I have ever cried for a person in my entire life. How I got the message: I was sleeping and woke up to a phone call asking me to confirm his death, so that, in itself, was nerve-racking. How could you confirm death of a person who was just alive in the block group few hours ago? We were just in the group discussing football. It’s hard to understand and hard to accept,” James said.

In reflecting on Dr Morris’s life, James said, initially when he met him he thought he was stubborn and confident.

“I met him when I was hall chairman for 2016/2017, when he was just coming on hall. He was a very stubborn person. He didn’t accept the orientation process right off the bat. He went through it in his second year on hall, and did it in the summer in private,” James recounted.

“His confidence also stood out. That I remember most about him; I don’t think anyone could tell him anything they want to and think he would believe just off their value. He was very confident and very sure of himself,” he added.

James said Dr Morris, who often expressed the desire to be a renowned surgeon, was very brilliant and an avid Chelsea Football Club fan.

“He was able to condense large amounts of information at a time. He was very smart and he loved Chelsea — the football club. Nobody could tell him anything about Chelsea Football Club that’s bad or negative; he would defend Chelsea Football Club,” he said.

Dr Morris also served as deputy block representative for Stallion Republic, Taylor Hall’s Block A.

Another friend, who wished not to be named, remembered Dr Morris as a quiet, confident individual.

“Even if he lost an election three times, he would go back, determined, and didn’t give up. He was always in the study room, and even if a discussion was being had on the block, he would just listen. He wasn’t the argumentative type, but he held his opinions,” she said.

Devaraine Rowe, UWI Guild vice-president of services and special projects, said Dr Morris was a true friend who pushed him to go the extra mile.

“He was always the person to push me and tell me I had the potential to do a lot of stuff, and he provided me with guidance on how to execute things. If I wanted anyone to tell me I could do it or motivate me, I would just go to him.”

But, for Rowe, coming to terms with his friend’s passing is hard because of a critical conversation the two had about his medical career.

“He had a scare with his recent passes. When it [results] came out first, it was showing he failed an exam. I was talking to him and trying to calm him down. I was telling him maybe it’s just for the best. Him say him cyaa do back over one more year. He queried it…and they sent him the acceptance letter and he got through.

“I talked to him numerous times and said, ‘Don’t do it [work out of town] just work at Kingston and UWI hospital… but he would get more hours at St Mary…” Rowe said, as his voice trailed.

The news of Dr Morris’s passing also left the medical fraternity in grief yesterday.

The Medical Association of Jamaica, the Jamaica Medical Doctors’ Association, NERHA, and Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton expressed sadness at the medical intern’s passing, and extended condolence to his friends and family.

Individuals also took to social media, some saying he had been working since Saturday, being on duty every night. Later checks by the Observer revealed that the posts had been removed, but NERHA, in an apparent attempt to respond to claims from Morris’s friends that he was severely overworked, said the firm to which Dr Morris was assigned in the paediatric department of the hospital has a complement of two paediatric consultants, three medical officers, one senior house officer, and three medical interns, including Dr Morris.

The regional health authority added that the cause of Dr Morris’s death is unknown and will need to be determined by an autopsy, which is to be scheduled.

In the meantime, NERHA, in conjunction with the Annotto Bay Hospital, has begun the process of convening grief counselling sessions with staff members at the hospital, and are making efforts to reach out to the medical intern’s family.

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