From the announcement of her pregnancy on March 5, 2008 to the announcement of the birth of Trig Palin six weeks later, Sarah Palin’s tale of her pregnancy and the birth of Trig was so incredible that it attracted deep skepticism, but no real investigation. While much of this has been discussed in the Babygate summary, there are certain aspects of Sarah’s story that demand more scrutiny. Among these, the roles of Sarah Palin’s friend and doctor, Cathy Baldwin-Johnston, and of Mat-Su Regional Medical Center remain very questionable and still largely hidden from view.
Let’s start with the hospital. The choice to “deliver” Trig at Mat-Su was, simply put, out of the boundaries of the hospital’s certification to provide medical services.
2. multiparous (>2 prior births; Palin had given birth 4 times previously)
3. two prior miscarriages (reported by Palin in Going Rogue, including the “wite-out abortion,”)
4. infant 5 weeks premature
5. infant with heart defect
6. infant with Down syndrome
7. rupture of membranes and other signs of labor beginning 22+ hours before arrival at Mat-Su. Premature rupture of membranes heightens the risk of infection and can cause prolapse of the umbilical cord, endangering both mother and child
Palin bypassed hospitals with NICUs in Texas and Seattle, and did not even arrange to meet CBJ at Providence Hospital in Anchorage, where CBJ had privileges. Instead, Palin’s (original) story is that she arrived at the hospital at around 11:30 at night and the baby was born at 6:30 the next morning, 7 hours after arrival at the hospital, and 29 hours after the leaking of amniotic fluid.
Birth was obviously not imminent when she arrived at Mat-Su; in fact, the Anchorage Daily News quoted CBJ saying that labor had to be induced. This makes no sense from a medical standpoint. Why induce if the baby was 5 weeks premature? Why not do everything possible to allow the fetus to develop further to avoid risks of prematurity? Was there any indication of infection or prolapse of the cord or that the baby was in distress? This seems unlikely, as Palin made no mention of any distress on her part or the baby’s and described it as an incredibly easy birth – the easiest of all her children.
The fact is that if there was time to induce labor, then there was time to transport Palin by ambulance to Providence Hospital in Anchorage, where her doctor had privileges – and past which she and Todd had just driven, on their way to Palmer from the Anchorage airport. This hospital had the medical staff and facilities, including a NICU, that would be needed for such a high risk delivery. But no; they chose to go ahead with the “delivery” at Mat-Su. If the details of the risks involved are in any respect truthful, then his aspect of the story is far beyond credibility. As one of our readers wrote, “If she were needing to be induced, and showed up at Mat-Su with that history, she’d be in an ambulance, and maybe even in a helicopter, to Anchorage within 15 minutes of arrival. Especially considering she was the Governor at the time… That. Delivery Does. Not. Happen. In. A. Hospital. Without. A. NICU. And. Neonatologists. Present.”
But arguendo: If Mat-Su did in fact allow this high-risk birth to take place there, this is not a trivial matter. Mat-Su cannot practice medicine beyond its accreditation-certification and expertise. Doing so would represent a huge risk to patient safety and leave the hospital open to major liability claims, as well as sanctions regarding its certification. Its lawyers would certainly have prohibited this from taking place. Did Mat-Su violate the limits of its certification? If the story is as Palin tells it, apparently so. (Take a look at the accreditation standards).
Complicating matters is Palin’s own role as a former board member of the hospital. She and others had tried to influence the hospital’s practice of medicine, most notably trying to prevent Mat-Su from performing abortions. They lost this effort when the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that, because they received substantial income from federal sources, they could not prevent the hospital from providing abortions. Despite the loss in court, it is apparent that Palin, and CBJ, had considerable influence within the hospital. Did this influence allow them to use the hospital as the venue for the Sarah Palin birth hoax?
The hospital did not report the birth in its on-line birth registry. No press conference of the physician announcing the birth of the governor’s son ever took place. Although there are a report and photos from Mat-Su on 4/18/08, including photos of Sally and Chuck Heath holding a baby, the hospital Mat-Su has never publicly acknowledged any role in the birth of Trig Palin. This could not be due to a desire for privacy, as the birth was widely reported, including the on-site report by Lori Tipton of KTUU on 4/18.
Regarding the photos of the Heaths and the baby, several people knowledgeable about neonatal care have stated that a premature newborn with DS, a hole in his heart and jaundice would not have been allowed out of the nursery into a public area hours after birth, nor would he have appeared at Sarah’s Anchorage office three days later.
What can we conclude? If that scenario really happened as described by Palin and the media, it would have violated the standards of practice of The Joint Commission (TJC) which surveys & accredits almost all hospitals across the United States.
Mat-Su’s role in this charade was either complicity in covering up Palin’s hoax, or they violated their accreditation-certification limitations. At the least, these scenarios warrant an investigation.
Here is a link which explains how The Joint Commission (TJC) will follow up on complaints and get back to the complainant. This has to be done within 3 years of the incident in question.
Now, continuing the medical theme, let’s turn our attention to Dr. Cathy Baldwin-Johnson. If Palin’s story were true, not only Mat-Su Regional Medical Center, but Cathy Baldwin-Johnson individually, was practicing medicine beyond her expertise and credentials. She is a family practitioner, not an obstetrician skilled in high-risk deliveries. In the prior year, she had reportedly attended only three births at Mat-Su. She did attend Palin at the birth of Piper 7 years before, but this does not qualify her to deliver a high risk infant with known health problems in a facility not equipped with an NICU nor accredited for such deliveries. Imagine the malpractice claims, and then imagine that ANY physician would expose themselves to such risk. Her malpractice insurer would NEVER allow that to happen.
Aside from the press reports cited above, CBJ has been silent regarding her role in the “delivery” of Trig Palin. The only purportedly official report made regarding this question was the letter, released by the McCain-Palin Campaign at 10:30 p.m. on November 3, 2008, barely hours before Election Day. This letter was supposedly the campaign’s response to requests for Sarah Palin’s medical records, which she had promised to release on October 24, 2008, in an interview with Brian Williams of NBC. The last minute release of this letter meant that no one examined it in any detail before the election, and after McCain-Palin lost, it slid into partial oblivion.
The oddities and discrepancies of this letter have been covered before, by various blogs. I will not repeat all of the problems with the letter, but only reiterate a few:
Quoting from a Palin’s Deceptions post which was written by a member of the research team:
A few months later, the editor of the Anchorage Daily News, Pat Dougherty, made clear that ADN had assigned reporter Lisa Demer to try to “report the facts of Trig’s birth thoroughly enough to kill the nonsense once and for all.” However, despite contacting Dr. Baldwin-Johnson (and others), Demer did not receive information to “put this nonsense to rest.” In fact, on advice of counsel, CBJ refused to answer Demer’s questions, even refusing to confirm whether she was present at the birth.
What we can say, with certainty, is that either Dr. Cathy Baldwin-Johnson violated the code of medical ethics by giving Palin medical advice over the phone when only a physical examination could reveal the level of risk – or she is complicit in perpetrating a hoax on the American people.
I will close by quoting this from AnonPoster a few months ago: Any doctor who tells her 44-year old patient who is leaking amniotic fluid, having contractions and 5 weeks early with a high-risk pregnancy that she need not go the hospital, and can instead spend the next 18+ hours taking cross-country flights on commercial airlines, is a MENACE who should not be allowed to practice medicine.
Alaska State Medical Board
550 West Seventh Avenue Suite 1500
Anchorage AK 99501-3567
I called the Mat-Su Regional Hospital again today and spoke with
I asked them what they typically do if a women in labor comes in at 35
weeks or earlier in her pregnancy. They said that they normally do a
labor check to see how the labor/dilation is progressing and what
stage the expectant mother is in. If the labor isn’t too far along,
they will probably transport the mother to Providence Alaska Medical
center in Anchorage, where there is an NICU. If the expectant mother
is too far into labor & there is a qualified pediatrician at the
hospital at the time, they may go ahead and let the mother give birth
at the Mat-Su hospital.
After birth, if the infant has any complications or high-risk factors,
like problems breathing or heart problems, they will immediately
stabilize & transport the new born to Providence Alaska Medical Center
in Anchorage, which is equipped with an NICU.”