PORT OF SPAIN – A couple from Gasparillo now believe the unsanitary conditions at the San Fernando General Hospital’s neonatal unit contributed to the death of their premature baby on Saturday.
Two-month old baby Issiah had been at the hospital since he was born on December 27 last year. He was born 14 weeks premature.
Nadie and Kurt Ram, of Fieldview Drive, yesterday called on Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh to immediately relocate the unit from the old hospital building to the San Fernando Teaching Hospital, on Chancery Lane, so that other babies would not suffer the same fate.
Contacted on the issue yesterday, director of health at the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA), Dr Albert Persaud, said deep cleaning of the existing unit had been done, adding the hospital started upgrades last Monday.
“The whole ward is being rearranged to minimize the infection. The infection in the unit is no more than it has been before. Infection occurs in cycles. Some months you will find more babies falling ill compared to other months. This happens in all neonatal units throughout the world,” Persaud said.
He said the re-arranging will take place within two weeks, following which expansion of the neonatal facilities will be done.
But the child’s father said he believed if his son was kept in a cleaner facility he would have survived.
Giving an overview of her ordeal, Nadie said she suffers from polycystic ovaries so she took precautions to ensure her pregnancy went well. On December 27, she started getting pains.
“I thought it was gas because I was only 28 weeks, two days. I went to my doctor in Gulf View and he said to go to the hospital. I went and the pain intensified. I felt like pushing and the baby came out in 15 minutes. He weighed 1.2 kg,” Nadie said.
She said the baby was given oxygen and a few days later they were told their son had contracted a bacterial infection.
Nadie said they took three blood samples and his condition improved and on Carnival weekend they were told he would be discharged. However, Nadie said when the final blood work was done they were told his infection marker had gone to nine so he couldn’t be discharged.
“The colour of his skin started to get dark and then he started to get pale. Between last Wednesday to Thursday, his body started to swell and his skin began peeling. They did an X-ray and they saw that he was bleeding internally from the right side lung. On Saturday, they said they were not hearing a heartbeat and they told us he passed,” Nadie said.
The distraught parents said they want to know why babies were keeping in a bacteria-contaminated ward. She said once the funeral for the baby is over, they intend to seek legal redress. Baby Isaiah’s funeral will take place tomorrow at Belgrove’s Funeral Home, in San Fernando.
The Rams are the second family to complain about the conditions at the neonatal unit. Last week, Randy Jaglal and his wife, Nazaran, said their son, Riley, became brain damaged after contracting a bacterial infection in the same ward. Riley has since been discharged.
Contacted yesterday, health minister Terrence Deyalsingh said baby Isaiah was born at 26 weeks.
“This is 14 weeks premature. He was born with a very low birth weight. His immune system was not fully developed and this made the baby susceptible to bacterial infection,” Deyalsingh said.
Extending condolences to the parents, Deyalsingh said, “I understand the pain and trauma. They want answers but they are going to take legal action so I will not be saying anything further.”
He added: “The underlying problem is babies are being born with antibiotic resistant bacteria. We have taken immediate measures to rearrange the neonatal intensive care unit. We have also identified another region near ward 15 A and B which will be refitted to accommodate more babies.”