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Woman suffers permanent lung damage, sues Naval hospital

Zarina Champagne said hospital failed to give proper follow-up care

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville woman is suing Naval Hospital Jacksonville because she said it failed to give her proper follow up care after hernia surgery in 2016.

An attorney said because of negligent post-surgery care, Zarina Champagne's lungs suffered permanent damage.

Attorney Sean Cronin said a nasogastric tube should have been put through her nose into her stomach following the surgery to help flush her out. Because that didn’t happen, Cronin said her lungs were damaged.

“She was actually vomiting large amounts of content,” Cronin said. “Rather than placing what’s called a nasogastric tube, the whole episode was ignored by the medical staff.”

Champagne said she now relies on pure oxygen to help her breathe and uses a scooter to get around.

“It changed my whole life,” Champagne said. “I love cooking. I can’t cook anymore because I can’t go near a flame.”

What should have been a few days turned into more than five months in the hospital, and Champagne said her family didn’t know if she would ever speak again.

“When I woke up, they were all standing around me,” Champagne said. “My son had this ball in his hand. He wanted to see me throw because they said I would be a vegetable.”

Champagne's husband, Joseph Champagne, encourages anyone who has even the smallest doubt about their loved one's medical treatment to speak up.

“Just go up the chain,” he said. “Go as far as you need to go.”

Life will never be the same for the couple, but Joseph Champagne is thankful to still have his wife by his side.

“Oh yeah she’s my miracle,” he said. “You bet.”

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday. Cronin said it could be as long as 18 months before a trial in federal court.

A statement from the hospital reads:

"We’re deeply committed to providing the best care to every patient entrusted to us. Due to patient confidentiality and privacy laws, we’re prohibited from providing any additional comments."