BELMOPAN, Belize, Monday May 27, 2013 – Prime Minister Dean Barrow says the government will assist in sending neonatal cases to private hospitals following the death of 12 babies at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (KHMH) that had been linked to the outbreak of enterobacter cloacae – an organism that is said to be responsible for major outbreaks in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) all over the world.
In a statement after he was briefed on the situation at the KHMH, Prime Minister Barrow has “agreed to assist with any interim arrangements needed to outsource urgent neonatal cases to private hospitals while the KHMH unit is being made completely safe by re-modelling”.
Director of Medical Services at the hospital, Dr Adrian Coye, said that the enterobacter cloacae organism is not a superbug.
“The problem lies in the fact that it is very fastidious, difficult to clear and there is transmission by direct contact and also by indirect contact. So it can be on the skin of any of us right now in this room, on your clothing material, on stethoscopes, on IV drip stands, the surfaces in the clinical area, etc,” he said.
“The profile of the resistance pattern within the organism we have found is sensitive to antibiotics that we do have in the hospital and made available through the Ministry of Health.”
He said due to the nature of the outbreak, help will be coming from the Washington-based Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO).
In the aftermath of the deaths, the hospital’s NICU has been closed and an independent contractor has ordered an assessment of the air quality in the unit. This will be followed by the removal and disinfection of all equipment and terminal cleaning of the entire unit.
The Ministry of Health said it is making all of its resources available to the KHMH to investigate and deal promptly with “this alarming situation” at the country’s only referral hospital.