The Department of Health insists only three babies have died from antibiotic-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae at the Thelle Mogoerane Hospital in Vosloorus.
This was despite the Democratic Alliance Gauteng Health spokesperson Jack Bloom saying the number of babies that have died at the hospital rose to five. Eleven babies had contracted the condition.
Bloom said hospital management was running around trying to find the source of the outbreak. He said five newborns have since died since the outbreak started in July.
“I discovered this when I visited the hospital last week to check up on sources who had told me that more babies had died after it was revealed two weeks ago that two out of seven babies infected with Klebsiella had died,” Bloom said.
However, health department spokesperson Khutso Rabothata said their numbers indicate that only three babies had died. Two of them died on August 25 - one of whom had weighed 1.1kg at birth and the other weighed 910g with respiratory distress syndrome. The third death was recorded on August 28 with the newborn weighing 1.2kg.
Bloom said the two deaths, which the health department is not accounting for, occurred on July 9 and another in early August.
“The remaining infected babies have been isolated to prevent further infection, and the neonatal and labour wards have been thoroughly scrubbed down," Bloom said.
Rabothata said the hospital’s chief executive Nomonde Mqhayi-Mbambo was on special leave “due to Labour Relations issues”.
Bloom said having Mqhayi-Mbambo set aside was a step in the right direction.
“I welcome the decision by the Gauteng Health Department to put the hospital’s CEO as she ignored warnings by staff that overcrowding in the neonatal ward increased the risk of infection.
“It is very distressing that so many babies have died from a preventable hospital-acquired infection. This troubled hospital needs new leadership and the filling of critical staff vacancies so that quality care is provided to all patients,” he said.
ABOUT KLEBSIELLA PNEUMONIAE
Klebsiella pneumoniae infections are typically "nosocomial" infections, which means they're contracted in a hospital or healthcare setting. People who have weakened immune systems, or sick or injured people who are undergoing procedures for various health issues, are more likely to get a Klebsiella infection.
Healthy people usually don't have to worry about getting Klebsiella pneumoniae infections. It is spread through direct person-to-person contact, such as when someone with contaminated hands touches a wound. Infections can also occur through the use of contaminated medical equipment. www.everydayhealth.com