Mother of baby on NICU ward: I wasn’t told of deaths

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

TT Registered Nurses Association president Idi Stuart. –

The mother of a baby still warded at the Port of Spain General Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) said she was not informed of the deaths of seven premature babies at the facility until she saw it on the news.

Speaking to Newsday on April 13, on condition of anonymity, she said the situation was not good for anyone involved.

“It’s heartbreaking. I’m a mom, and I know what those parents are going through, I could never feel good.”

Asked how she felt about having her child in the NICU, she said, “I’m uneasy about it. If I had known before, maybe I could have done something, but as the situation right now as it is, I don’t have a choice.

“The hospital didn’t tell me anything about the situation, I heard about it on the news.”

Another woman whose daughter had a baby on the ward said she felt good about the treatment her baby was receiving.

Seven babies died as a result of infections at the NICU between April 4 and 7.

Meanwhile, TT Registered Nurses Association president Idi Stuart said the association would be carrying out its own investigation into the matter and intends to issue a statement on April 15.

He said the neonatal babies would have reached a viable gestation period of 28 weeks but would be more prone to hospital-acquired infections.

“Every virus, every disease comes through the hospital and would remain on the beds, in the linens, in the machinery, which must be constantly cleaned to ensure you wipe out, as best as you can, 99 per cent of all those harmful bacteria. It appears this was not done to the extent that would have prevented one child from becoming infected, and then transferring that infection to one child to a second child all the way up to a seventh child. So that area, in terms of surveillance and monitoring, has fallen down in the NICU. Who is responsible for that is yet to be ascertained.

“For seven children to be infected, one can only assume and suspect there was a shortage of NICU-trained nursing personnel to deliver care for the number of babies that were in the unit. We would want to see the number of nursing personnel assigned to that unit over the week prior to the discovery of the infection.”

He said the Health Ministry has been saying there is no shortage of nursing personnel.

“We will be looking out for a statement from the Health Ministry. We will also be carrying out our own investigation to see if the NICU policy was being followed in this department.”

Stuart extended condolences to the families of the babies, as well as the healthcare workers who work in the NICU.

He hoped counselling would be provided to the healthcare professionals and the families.