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When a klebsiella-like infection hit the University Hospital 30 years ago

Published:Thursday | October 22, 2015 | 12:00 AM

A consultant paediatrician has revealed that more than 30 years ago, a klebsiella-like bacterial infection was detected at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) but at that time there were no deaths.

According to Dr Sandra Williams-Phillips this is because the management of the hospital took immediate steps to restrict the spread of the infection.

Williams-Phillips who now works privately, was working at the UHWI at the time of the infection around 1984.

Three decades later, 18 babies have died at the UHWI and Cornwall Regional Hospital in just four months following the outbreak of an infection caused by the bacteria klebsiella and serratia.

READ: Infectious bacteria blamed for 18 baby deaths at two hospitals

According to Dr Williams-Phillips, when the infection was discovered at the UHWI in the 1980s, there was an immediate ‎isolation and segregation of babies and staff.

She said a makeshift nursery with new staff was constructed to separate uninfected babies, and parents were informed of the problem.

The consultant paediatrician said ‎informing parents is critical because it helps all stakeholders to understand the importance of following strict guidelines to restrict transmission.

The health ministry has been under fire for suggesting that the infection among babies at the UHWI is a usual occurrence.

The health minister has been particularly criticised after revealing that he learnt of the ‎infection on Friday after it was reported on Nationwide radio.