Two babies died at the Thelle Mogoerane Hospital in Ekurhuleni after the outbreak of an antibiotic-resistant bacteria that causes deadly pneumonia, the Gauteng health department said today.
The department said the klebsiella pneumonia outbreak happened in July, affecting several babies in the neonatal ward.
Hospital employees held protests demanding that the department address overcrowding of babies in the neonatal ward.
Health spokesperson Lesemang Matuka said head of department Mkhululi Lukhele visited the hospital following the outbreak.
“During the visit, Professor Lukhele confirmed that the hospital’s neonatal unit identified seven cases of klebsiella pneumonia outbreak in July 2018, which sadly resulted in [the] deaths of two babies. Contrary to what has been reported in the media, there were five babies that were being treated and out of the five, one of the baby’s results was negative,” Matuka said in a statement.
“Samples were taken and have been sent to the laboratory to establish the source of the outbreak. The hospital has since taken proactive measures by strengthening Infection Prevention and Control and closely monitoring the unit.”
Lukhele said all babies were screened to prevent further infections.
“The district specialist and head office were called in for support. The department is planning to form a provincial task team led by neonatologist to continuously look at the measures to prevent possible future infections in all our facilities,” said Lukhele.
“Thelle Mogoerane Hospital like many other health facilities in the province, faces a challenge of ever increasing demand for services. The 61-bedded neonatal unit often admits close to 90 patients. Whilst the management is looking at improving the hospital infrastructure, it is doing its utmost best to serve patients with honour and dignity.”
The Sowetan newspaper reported that hospital staff members had previously complained to management about numerous issues, including food and staff shortages at the hospital but nothing was being done. According to the newspaper, six babies died at the hospital after contracting the bacteria.
Unions such as the Public Servants Association (PSA) the Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa), and the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) had drafted a joint memorandum because workers had had enough of the problems at the hospital.
A nurse at the neonatal ward told the newspaper: “The ward has 60 licensed beds but we ended up having 96 babies because our catchment area is very large.”
– African News Agency (ANA)