I take no blame – McCartney
Former medical chief of staff at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) Professor Trevor McCartney has adamantly declared that he did not resign because he felt responsible for the circumstances that led to the deaths of premature babies at the institution.
"I was not asked to resign; I left of my own volition. I think it is a misconception to say there were two casualties of what happened," McCartney told The Gleaner yesterday.
"I never took the blame, but I was disappointed with the [UHWI] board's lack of support of the medical staff. I felt they treated the staff unfairly and wanted them (the staff) to take the blame, when the staff did all they could to contain the situation. The board wished the medical staff to have some part to play in it, and it is not so at all. What they wanted was to remove the pressure from the Ministry of Health. That is how I saw it."
Over the past few weeks, the circumstances that led to the tragic deaths of 19 premature babies at the UHWI and the Cornwall Regional Hospital has dominated local interest.
Since June, 42 premature babies have been infected during four outbreaks of the klebsiella and serratia bacteria, resulting in 19 deaths.
Following a statement from UHWI, McCartney, along with Chief Executive Officer Dr Cecil White, resigned in what was described as "one-line letters of resignation that offered no reason".
"I am confident that everything that could have been done was done by the medical staff. Yes, we don't live in an ideal world and things happen that should not have happened, but we tried our best to ensure all the protocols were adhered to," McCartney said.
"The hospital has a very good, active Infection Control Committee, which warns us on a daily basis of any outbreaks or infections anywhere in the hospital. In the last three years, it has pumped up a lot because we identified that there were certain practices of some of the staff which may potentiate infections."
He continued: "I will admit that we could have had stronger monitoring to ensure that the proper guidelines were adhered to, ... but we must remember this was by no means the first, and it will not be the last."
He also denied reports that 12 premature babies had died at the hospital.
"We did not lose 12 babies as is being reported in the media. Unfortunately, we lost eight babies, and once again, I would like to express my condolences to the families. This is one of the reasons why
I sought to clear the air because there
has been a total misconception or misinformation being spread around," McCartney stated.
He said one baby died in June after being infected with serratia; six in the period August to September during the klebsiella outbreak; and one after being infected with pseudomonas. The last death was on October 13.
McCartney said after the incident, the hospital launched an intensive investigation to determine what caused the outbreaks, but up to the time he demitted office on October 31, they were yet to determine the cause.