By CHESTER ROBARDS
Tribune Senior Reporter
THE Public Hospitals Authority said yesterday afternoon that the strain of Acinetobacter Baumannii that killed two premature babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of the Princess Margaret Hospital has not been detected within the “environment” of the NICU.
A press statement released by the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) said:
“The Princess Margaret Hospital confirms that the strain of Acinetobacter baumannii, the bacteria affecting patients in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), was not found in the environment of the NICU including the air conditioning system.”
However, the babies who died, and six others who were present in the NICU, tested positive for the Acinetobacter Baumannii bacteria. Health Minister Dr. Perry Gomez, confirmed last week that the bacteria was also found in the General Intensive Care Unit (GICU) of PMH.
No PHA or PMH officials could be reached for comment up to press time yesterday.
While the PHA did not reveal in its press statement yesterday how the babies in NICU and individuals in GICU contracted the bacteria, it did say that the hospital is still investigating the matter and has imposed “new strict infection control precautions” that are “effective and are preventing new infections.”
“PMH can now report that four of the five babies affected in NICU are now off ventilators with the one infant remaining for conditions unrelated to Acinetobacter baumannii,” the press statement said. It mentioned nothing of the individuals in the GICU.
Subsequently, Professor Stanley Read, consultant in Infectious Diseases at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada, has been recruited to assist in the investigations and infection control practices at PMH, the PHA’s statement said.
It continued: “There is also ongoing consultation with the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).”
The Acinetobacter Baumannii severely affects those with compromised immune systems, which is why the two premature babies within the NICU died of the bacteria, according to doctors at PMH.
In 1996 an outbreak of the same bacteria caused the deaths of nine babies at PMH.
Dr Gomez said that after the 1996 outbreak protocols were implemented to prevent any recurrence of the bacteria.
Dr Gomez told members of the House of Assembly that a report by the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) released in June of this year “identified a number of offending practices” with regard to those protocols.
“The (PAHO) report indicated that some of the corrective actions suggested as a result of the 1996 findings were systematically terminated,” he said.