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UHWI takes blame for keeping Ferguson in dark over baby deaths, delaying response

Published:Wednesday | October 21, 2015 | 10:14 PM
Ferguson ... has been under intense pressure since yesterday when he told a press conference that he learned of the problems only on Friday — the same day the story was first reported on Nationwide Radio.

The University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) has taken the blame for failing to tell the Health Ministry about an infectious outbreak at the hospital that resulted in the deaths of several babies.

The Health Minister, Dr Fenton Ferguson, has been under intense pressure since yesterday when he told a press conference that he learned of the problems only on Friday — the same day the story was first reported on Nationwide Radio.

READ: Four months, 18 babies dead and health minister in the dark

According to John Lindo, the acting head of the Department of Microbiology, a timely report would have triggered a series of actions by the Ministry of Health and its international partners including the Caribbean Public Health Agency and the Pan-American Health Organisation.

Eighteen babies have died at the UHWI's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and the Cornwall Regional Hospital in the past four months because of infections caused by the bacteria — klebsiella and serratia.

Lindo did not say why the issue was not reported to the Health Ministry.

However, he said there were "many" previous cases of infections at the hospital.

Lindo said the UHWI's infection control team was "confident" that it could have controlled what it called the cluster of cases there, like it had done in the past.

In the meantime, at a meeting of the UHWI Board of Management today, the board concluded that there was a breach in the reporting protocol. 

Chairman, Sterling Soares mandated that a detailed report on the breach of protocol be delivered to him by midday Thursday.