Hawke's Bay DHB member in 'stand-off' with her own board

4:21 pm on 2 August 2019

A Hawke's Bay District Health Board member who said the board failed in its duty of care during the attempted removal of a newborn baby in May is now in a stand-off against it.

District Health Board member Jacoby Poulain.

District Health Board member Jacoby Poulain. Photo: Hawke's Bay Today / Paul Taylor

Jacoby Poulain is refusing to attend further board meetings, but will not formally resign.

She has not attended meetings since the incident three months ago.

Ms Poulain sent a text message to the board chairman Kevin Atkinson on Wednesday morning, stating she was resigning effective immediately.

"Why I chose to resign was a result of months of what I viewed to be pressure and coercion to either stay silent or resign, if I wished to speak in the manner in which I felt I needed to, or risk being reported to the Minister for removal or risk legal action," she said.

However, the board could not accept the resignation because it was not done properly, as a letter to the Minister of Health.

"Now that I know [that] I'm not prepared to do that because the minister won't have the background information for what caused me to do that, and what's caused me to do that is the pressure from the health board - in particular the chairman - that I find unlawful and unfair."

Ever since she spoke out over the incident where a newborn was almost removed from its 19-year-old mother at Hawke's Bay Hospital, the board's focus had been on that and not the event itself, she said.

"For two months I was wrangling with the chairman trying to get a process where we, as a board, can sit down and talk about the event, what happened and how we are going to resolve it but the chairman, in my view, was so focused on only talking about me and my actions, that that was the only forum I was offered."

"The only meetings I have had available to me with the board is one in which I view was essentially a disciplinary meeting against me only and I find that unfair and unbalanced.

"I have been desperate to talk about what happened at the hospital at that day but I have not been able to do that and the whole emphasis has been on my actions, so I have decided not to attend those meetings.

She said this effectively put her in a stand-off with the board as neither would agree on the correct process or forum for discussing what had happened.

Legislation for removal

Mr Atkinson said he was unaware Ms Poulain was not formally submitting her resignation but said if she missed meetings the legislation would allow for her removal.

He said two meetings had been arranged to discuss and resolve the issues which Ms Poulain had not attended.

"I've done everything here, more than anyone can do... we've got bigger issues to face and can't worry about this anymore."

Ms Poulain said it was inevitable that the health minister would need to get involved to resolve the impasse.

"I am taking this almost minute by minute, day by day at the moment. I find the situation a tricky one and I have asked for the process so I think it's almost unprecedented in that I'm not sure of the process and I'm not sure the other parties know either.

"In the meantime there are very important issues to be resolved, and I intend to keep speaking about them."

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