Democratic Alliance (DA) Gauteng shadow health MEC, Jack Bloom said in a statement on Wednesday that Thelle Mogoerane Hospital CEO Nomonde Mqhayi-Mbambo was warned about deadly infection risks in the neonatal ward, but failed to take action that could have averted the deaths of two babies from Klebsiella infection.
A superbug outbreak killed two babies at a hospital in Vosloorus after several infections were reported at the facility.
Initial media reports indicated that five babies had died, but according to the Gauteng department of health, in total seven babies were infected with the antibiotic-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae bacteria at the hospital.
The first case was identified on July 9, with one of the babies dying in that month, and another this month.
Bloom said he has seen a memorandum dated May 18 this year that was sent by the staff at the neonatal ward where seven babies became infected with Klebsiella in July and August, of whom two have died.
“The memorandum details a gross shortage of nurses, severe overcrowding, lack of equipment and poor working conditions.
“Instead of 22 nurses per shift, there were only 12 nurses per shift,” Bloom said.
The DA shadow MEC said staff had warned in the memorandum that “our premature babies are at risk of nosocomial infection due to overcrowding, shortage of staff, inconvenient location of wash basin, poor hand hygiene secondary to unavailability of stock.”
“A nosocomial infection is one that is acquired in a hospital setting, which is what happened with the antibiotic-resistant Klebsiella infection that claimed the lives of the two babies.
“According to staff, there were more deaths in babies in ward 2 this weekend, but it is unclear whether this was due to Klebsiella,” Bloom said.
Bloom added that staff at the hospital are also concerned that the hospital is mixing new-borns with three to nine-month-old babies, which increases the risk of cross-infection.
“My assessment is that Hospital CEO Nomonde Mqhayi-Mbambo has failed to run this hospital effectively and has ignored the warnings of workers about infection risks.
“There needs to be a thorough investigation of the baby deaths and accountability from those who were responsible.
“Other problems at this hospital should also be fixed to ensure quality care for all patients,” Bloom said.