NWRHA CEO promises transparency in investigation into babies’ deaths

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

File photo: Port of Spain General Hospital.

North West Regional Health Authority (NWRHA) CEO Anthony Blake is promising full transparency and disclosure to the parents of the babies who died at the Port of Spain General Hospital (POSGH) after an outbreak of a bacterial infection at the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Speaking with Newsday on April 14, Blake said he had not yet received the pre-action protocol letters sent by attorneys for the babies’ families. But, he maintained he was committed to being “honest and truthful” throughout the investigation.

He said Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI) and the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) have been approached for help in investigating the deaths

“We will do the investigation as we’ve promised to… There’s going to be full disclosure and transparency once we’ve gone through the investigation. And I think the fact that we have external entities participating and doing their own investigation would mean that they too would disclose the findings at the appropriate time in the appropriate (forum).”

While the NICU is now back to a “level of normalcy,” Blake said additional sanitisation will be done on April 14.

“We’ve actually done a lot of additional sanitising, but just as an additional precaution, we have another company coming in (Monday), just as a matter of redundancy.

“We’re treating patients at this point in time, we’re having successful outcomes.”

Describing the incident as “tragic and quite unfortunate,” Blake apologised and said he hoped it does not affect the public’s confidence in the hospital where thousands of babies are successfully delivered each year.

“Everybody, including the cleaners in NICU, are specifically trained in terms of infection prevention and control and how they’re supposed to handle neonates.

“So while we do understand, justifiably so, there will be some drop in confidence from the general public, I want to assure them that we are doing everything and have done everything in our power to ensure that incidents such as these do not rear their heads.

Blake said also had “hard conversations” with the NICU staff who may feel demotivated after the babies’ deaths.

Blake, along with other NWRHA officials,  is set to meet with the babies’ parents on Tuesday and Wednesday. He also said he will also use the meeting to get feedback from the parents on what “they may have felt that went right or went wrong, even from a customer service (sic) standpoint.”

He was unable to comment on claims of poor customer service, but said if a gap is identified during the investigation, action will be taken.

He said the NWRHA has been emphasising to employees the importance of customer service training and being sympathetic to patients’ situations.

Last week, a release from the NWRHA said the deaths occurred between April 4 and April 7 after “laboratory investigations revealed the presence of three different organisms…all known to pose significant risks to vulnerable neonates.”