‘Several’ premature babies die at Port of Spain hospital from infection

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

The Port of Spain General Hospital – Jeff K.Mayers

The North West Regional Health Authority (NWRHA) says several premature babies died during a four-day span at its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Port of Spain General Hospital (POSGH) last week.

In a statement issued on Thursday night, the NWRHA said the deaths occurred between April 4 and April 7.

During this time, staff observed a rapid deterioration in the clinical status of several neonates.

It said the medical team, recognising the severity of the situation, immediately initiated infectious diseases and control protocols for the treatment of late-onset neonatal sepsis.

It said the condition is known for its rapid onset and potentially devastating consequences.

“In response to this heartbreaking situation, the NICU was immediately closed to new admissions to prevent further transmission of the infection and healthy babies discharged. Rigorous sanitisation and sterilisation measures were implemented with external contractors involving clinical and non-clinical areas.”

The NWRHA said its microbiology lab did tests for potential sources and has requested external support from the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI) for environmental testing.

“Since April 7th, no new infection has been reported, indicating the effectiveness of these internal measures in halting the spread of the bacteria.”

It said despite their actions, some of the babies succumbed to the infection.

“Laboratory investigations revealed the presence of three different organisms – serratia marcesens, ESBL Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Klebsiella aerogenes – all known to pose significant risks to vulnerable neonates.

“Despite administering high-dose antibiotics and providing advanced and intensive cardio-respiratory support, the infection claimed the lives of some of these preterm babies, all weighing under 1500 grams and less than 32 weeks gestational age.”

The NWRHA said parents were regularly updated on the babies’ conditions and all parents have been referred to its medical social work department for bereavement counselling.

The NWRHA sent condolences “to the families who are dealing with this tragic loss.”