Jack Loh’s parents believed they had a ‘healthy, happy’ baby before daycare death, inquest hears

The parents of a baby boy who died at a Sydney daycare say doctors told them he was healthy and happy.

A home daycare worker left a baby boy she placed facedown in a bassinet unattended for up to 40 minutes before finding him blue and unresponsive, an inquest has heard.

Jack Loh was nearly seven months old when educator Helen Rateau discovered him without a pulse and not breathing after putting him down to sleep on March 4, 2019.

Despite her efforts to provide first aid at the Randwick centre she ran out of her home, Jack was pronounced dead at Sydney Children’s Hospital at about 2.20pm that afternoon.

On Monday the Lidcombe Coroners Court heard from his devastated parents, who said he had experienced some medical conditions in his young life – including a heart murmur and bronchiolitis – but doctors had told them these were normal.

“We thought he was a healthy, happy, normal baby,” mum Margot said. “To find out otherwise, it was a huge shock.”

The inquest heard on the day Jack died he was placed in a bassinet on his stomach on top of an untucked green wrap, a pillow and wearing a dribble bib.

He was not dressed in the sleep suit his mother Margot had left when she dropped him off at the centre that morning.

Senior Counsel assisting the inquest Katherine Richardson said Jack woke crying sometime between 12.40pm and 12.50pm, prompting Ms Rateau to go and check on him.

When she did he stopped crying and she left him to his slumber.

“She did not touch or pick up Jack. She left the room with the door ajar,” Ms Richardson said.

Ms Richardson said during the next 30 to 40 minutes Ms Rateau sent texts on her mobile phone, called her sister and spoke to another parent interested in enrolling a child at the centre.

The baby monitor in the room where Jack was sleeping was not turned on, the inquest heard.

“When Ms Rateau next checked Jack, he was facedown in the bassinet with a blue face and not breathing,” Ms Richardson said.

It was only Jack’s fourth visit to the centre.

The inquest heard Jack’s mother had told Ms Rateau her son slept best on his tummy and the family GP had given them the all clear as he often rolled onto his back.

Parents Margot and Joe Loh have been left heartbroken at the tragic death of their infant son and believe it could have been prevented.

They said their son slept in a cot with only a fitted sheet because he had outgrown their own bassinet and moved around in his sleep.

Ms Loh said she would never allow him to sleep with a bib on because it “was dangerous”.

Deputy State Coroner Derek Lee addressed the Lohs as they sat before him in court on Monday, thanking them for “remaining engaged in the criminal process”.

“I remain deeply saddened by the circumstances of Jack’s death and have been since the matter first became known to me,” he said.

The official cause of Jack’s death has been diagnosed as pulmonary hypertension, however the inquest will examine contributing factors that could have played a role.

Among them will be the background and qualifications needed for a person to become a childcare worker, the sleeping environment Jack was left in and the overarching structure of childcare providers in NSW.

Ms Rateau was a subcontractor for Kidstart Family Day Care, which oversaw dozens of centres, but has since had its approval to provide childcare cancelled by the Department of Education.

Both Ms Rateau and Kidstart were later charged and convicted in court for breaching the National Law, which sets a standard for childcare and education across Australia.

It is not suggested they are responsible for Jack’s death and they have not been charged with such offences.

The inquest heard Ms Rateau’s accreditation to provide CPR lapsed in October 2018 and she did not renew it despite requests from Kidstart to do so.

Ms Rateau would later plead guilty in court to not protecting children from harm, failing to meet sleep and rest needs of children and not adequately supervising children.

She was fined $7500 and placed on a conditional release order for 18 months.

The inquest continues.


The article from the source


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