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CMO will not resign as a result of dead babies scandal

Published:Thursday | October 29, 2015 | 10:00 AMEdmond Campbell
Bullock DuCasse

CHIEF MEDICAL Officer (CMO) in the Ministry of Health Dr Marion Bullock DuCasse has indicated that she has no intention of stepping aside in the wake of the dead babies scandal at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) and the Cornwall Regional Hospital.

Bullock DuCasse, who was informed on September 7

of the outbreak of the infections in the Neonatal Special Care and Intensive Care units of the UHWI, suggested that the prevailing protocols did not place any obligation on her to report all issues affecting hospitals to Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson.

"There is no need in our protocol to advise the minister of all reports that come from all hospitals about all matters," Bullock DuCasse said.

She was at pains to explain that the first of two reports she received on September 7 spoke about cases that occurred from June 4-14, which had already been contained. She said the other letter mentioned cases that had occurred in August. The CMO said the first report of an outbreak at the UHWI was received on October 16, at which point, the ministry made immediate contact with the institution to ascertain what was happening.

19 DEATHS

Nineteen premature babies have died at the country's two major health facilities after being infected with klebsiella and serratia bacteria.

Asked during a Jamaica House press briefing yesterday whether the buck stopped with her, Bullock DuCasse said the Ministry of Health had overall responsibility for the health sector.

"The persons who work in the health sector have a responsibility to adhere to the norms and standards and the protocols with regard to how we carry out our practices, and also with regard to how we report on cases to ensure that the appropriate actions are guided and taken at the relevant levels."

She told journalists that earlier reports of information being sent in July 2015 had been retracted as this did not happen.

The senior health official said since the ministry introduced enhanced measures at the two hospitals, there have been no new cases.

However, she said the ministry received a report of one child with a bacterial infection at the St Ann's Bay Hospital. The ministry dispatched a team of senior health officials to the hospital, which is conducting an assessment to ensure that the appropriate recommendations are in place.

"This is not an outbreak, this is one case that has been identified," she stressed.

Bullock DuCasse also reported that eight babies had been infected with MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) bacteria. She said there was also a small outbreak of MRSA at the Bustamante Hospital for Children in July, and the health ministry worked alongside the team at the institution to contain it. Three babies who had been in the unit for months were affected.

Commenting on the recent visit by a team from the Pan American Health Organization, the CMO said a report would be submitted to the minister shortly.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com