An inquest into the death of Sally Maaz, the 17-year-old Co. Mayo student who passed away while an inpatient at Mayo University Hospital two years ago, concluded in disorder this afternoon before three members of the public were removed from the courtroom by gardai.
Martina Burke, along with a son, Josiah, and a daughter, Jemima, loudly shouted questions and comments from the body of Swinford Courthouse after the Coroner for Mayo returned a verdict of death from natural causes.
While in hospital, Ms Maaz was diagnosed with Covid-19. Covid was diagnosed as the medical cause of her death.
After the Coroner for Mayo, Pat O’Connor returned a verdict of death from natural causes, Burke family members heckled the coroner claiming the proceedings were “a disgrace” and that the Maaz family had been “deceived” by gardai.
When the Burkes loudly persisted with their complaints and condemnation, they were removed one by one from the hearing. Last February, at the initial stages of the inquest, they were also expelled from the proceedings.
Before delivering his verdict today Coroner O’Connor said that Sally Maaz had contracted Covid, a communicable disease. Nobody, he said, can definitively say where or when they contracted the disease.
The coroner made a number of recommendations which included:
That an expert group be established by the Government to review the manner in which the State, particularly the Department of Health and the HSE, dealt with the Covid pandemic in Ireland with a view to learning lessons and ensuring that the State is adequately prepared for any further pandemic.
He asked that the HSE, Mayo University Hospital and the Saolta Group take careful note and learn the lessons as are appropriate from the evidence adduced at the inquest.
He also recommended that appropriate communication and notification in writing take place between medical clinicians on the handover of care by them to others of any patient in MUH.
Mr. O’Connor recommended that MUH, in consultation with Saolta and the HSE put in place, if not already in place, clear lines of responsibility for the care of patients by all clinical staff.
Finally, the coroner urged that the protocols in MUH for liasing with members of a patient’s family be reviewed and updated.