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Five babies die in one week at the MCMH

Five babies die in one week at the MCMH

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When Ann’s (not her real name) baby was born in August 2016, weighing less than one pound, this young mother was devastated, but as the days rolled on, her hope grew, as her girl child put on weight while warded in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Paediatric Ward of the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital (MCMH).

But in the latter half of September, Ann’s baby took a turn for the worse and died one night in the NICU.

Although grieved by the passing of her daughter, Ann may not have suspected anything outside of the ordinary, had she not learnt about the deaths of four other infants in the NICU within the space of one week.{{more}}

“I was told that I would be able to take her home soon…she was doing so well and she was now weighing two pounds, eight ounces a month after she was born,” Ann explained to SEARCHLIGHT from her home last Wednesday, November 2.

So what caused the death of five babies in such a short space of time in the MCMH’s NICU in a hospital that has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the region?

According to Ann, “carelessness and a bad decision.”

To put what happened in context, let’s go back to the morning of Wednesday, September 14, when in the North Leeward village of Fitz-Hughes, residents rescued a newborn baby from a toilet pit.

The child’s rescue drew national attention when a video of the child being fished from a latrine, umbilical cord still attached, was posted on social media site Facebook.

That male child was taken to the MCMH NICU after being rescued, but died on Sunday, September 18.

Ann said she was told by a doctor that the rescued baby spread a bacteria in the NICU, making the seven other babies housed there sick, allegedly killing four of the other newborns.

Ann said that when her baby was born, it was taken directly to the NICU, as it was born prematurely.

She said on Thursday, September 16 or Friday, September 17, the rescued baby was placed less than two feet away from her baby; both infants were in incubators.

“…the incubators were really close and seven babies were in there and after that one came in, everybody baby start getting really sick,” recalled Ann.

She said that she left one day and came back the next and realized that all the babies which had been showing signs of improvement were all back on intravenous fluids and oxygen.

“…my own did come off and was breathing on its own and I asked what happen and they said they (the babies) picked up infection.”

Ann said she found that strange as just one week before, on September 12, a blood test done on her daughter indicated that she was fine.

She said that one of the mothers said she had overheard the medical staff speaking and expressing concern that the baby from Fitz-Hughes had spread bacteria in the NICU.

“…One of the girl hear and came out and tell everybody and we went in and started to make a bad and said we want to know what happen, then they up and tell we the infection come from …[the] baby from Leeward,” said Ann.

The angry mother said that she went home one night and then woke up to 14 missed calls from the MCMH. She said that when she returned the call, she was told to come to the MCMH right away. On arrival at the hospital, she was told her daughter was dead.

“After the baby them start die out, they told us the [rescued] baby leave an infection in the room.

“Three died before mine and one died after mine, a girl from Sharpes, I think, died last. We had no choice more than to leave it just so. Someone encouraged me to go to a lawyer and seek help, but that won’t bring her back. It hurt me a lot; it was my first child,” stressed Ann, who added that a doctor confirmed to her that the infection had come from the rescued baby.

“I let them bury her because it was their fault. I think one person took their child and bury it themselves,” noted Ann.

She added, “they said my baby died from an infection in the blood. They told me she was vomiting through her nose.”

Another mother, Sue (not real name), whose child also died, said that her baby was admitted to the NICU and she observed that when the rescued baby came into the unit, “all the babies started to get more sick.

“The machines them were beeping off regularly, more than usual after that baby came, and then real strange things start to happen. The machines start going off on all of them,” said the angry mother.

Sue revealed that one day, while at the NICU, she heard some mothers speaking about the rescued baby and that a nurse had told her colleagues that she objected to placing that baby in the NICU.

“…I was hearing that she told them it wasn’t a good idea to bring that baby in the NICU,” said Sue, whose baby was born on September 14.

“She died from bacteria in the blood, but they didn’t tell me how the bacteria got there, but one [nurse] said she was born too young, so it was easy for she to pick up an infection.

“I don’t understand, to me, they are really careless down there, not all of them, but majority of them. They always in a group talking commess. They are ridiculous,” said Sue.

The father of one of the babies said that a nurse told him that the baby died of a “virus”. He said that a few hours before the baby died, the child’s mother had told him that the baby was doing well and would soon come home.

He said that one morning he was told to come to the hospital right away and when he got there, “we see the baby wrap up on a table…them was saying that the baby from Leeward that came in spread that (bacteria); my girlfriend tell me that one the doctor told her so.”

“It make me feel bad because she was coming on good and thing,” said the grieving father, who revealed that he had spent quite a bit of money preparing for his second child to come home.

He said that he will be discussing the possibility of legal action with his girlfriend.

“…I think they were careless because … sometimes … the nurse go out and come back in without putting on nothing over them and touch up the baby and … [the babies are] easy to catch germs…. I would like someone to take responsibility,” said the angry dad, who added that he has not even received an apology.

The aunt of one of the dead children said that she learnt from a good source that after the deaths, the NICU was scrubbed and the vents cleaned in an effort to get rid of any bacteria.

When contacted on Tuesday, November 1, medical director at the MCMH Dr Charles Woods said that he was not aware of the situation and would look into the allegations. Minister of Health Luke Browne also promised to look into the matter and get back to SEARCHLIGHT; however, up to press time, despite reminders, he had not done so. (LC)

(The names of the mothers in this article have been changed, as they told their stories on the condition of anonymity.)

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