KERALA

Infant deaths: five-member panel starts probe

VENTING THEIR IRE: Police block NCP workers demanding the resignation of Health Minister P.K. Sreemathy near SAT Hospital in the city on Friday. Photo: S. Mahinsha

VENTING THEIR IRE: Police block NCP workers demanding the resignation of Health Minister P.K. Sreemathy near SAT Hospital in the city on Friday. Photo: S. Mahinsha  

Staff Reporter

Sterilisation and sanitation drive launched in SAT Hospital

Thiruvananthapuram: The five-member expert committee instituted by the Government to investigate the situation leading to the death of 38 newborns at Sree Avittam Tirunal (SAT) Hospital following hospital-acquired infection has begun its work.

The committee, with Director of Medical Education N. Sudhayakumar as convener and consultant gynaecologist at Sree Uthradom Tirunal (SUT) Hospital Rajasekharan Nair as chairman, went through all records at the neonatology unit at the hospital on Friday.

The committee will meet again tomorrow for an analysis of the situation and chalk out an action plan to ensure an infection-free environment in labour rooms wards and neonatal intensive care units (ICUs) in the hospital.

HLL starts work

Meanwhile, the hospital consultancy division of Hindustan Latex Ltd. has launched a sterilisation and sanitation drive in the hospital. The emergency theatre was closed for sterilisation and fumigation purposes. All emergency surgeries will be shifted to the major theatre for the time being.

All toilets, open areas and wards are being disinfected. Total sterilisation of all the affected areas would take time and would have to be planned out carefully, authorities said.

A new room has been identified for isolating infected newborns. Most of the infants here are on oxygen support and until the new room is fully equipped with critical care monitors and supports, the babies cannot be shifted there.

It has already been decided that babies who return from the wards with infection will not be re-admitted to the sterile neonatal ICU. They will go to the sick ICU.

Thirteen nursing assistants who had retired from the hospital have been re-appointed on a temporary basis.

Visitors

The security situation at the hospital was reviewed at a meeting called by District Collector N. Ayyappan.

Security sergeants have been asked to patrol the wards and strictly regulate the entry of visitors.

Protests

Utter chaos reigned at the hospital and Government Medical College Hospital (MCH) as protestors led by various political parties raised slogans. While a section of Youth Congress activists barged inside the MCH and gheraoed Superintendent D. Dalus, the youth wing of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) tried to force its way inside SAT Hospital. NCP activists also marched to the MCH Principal's office.

Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Ramesh Chennithala also visited SAT Hospital on Friday.

The Youth Congress activists alleged that though the Microbiology department had reported the presence of infection-causing bacteria in the surgical ICUs and Central Sterilisation Rooms in the MCH last month, the Superintendent had failed to take remedial action.

When contacted, Dr. Dalus clarified that the organisms, Methicillin-resistant Staphyllococcus aureus (MRSA) and enterococci, had been detected in two routine samples that had been sent to the Microbiology department for analysis early last month.

Remedial action had been launched immediately and the department had given a report on April 27 that the sterile environment had been restored.

Dr. Dalus said MRSA infections were quite common in a hospital environment and sample testing and infection-control measures such as sterilisation and fumigation had to be undertaken periodically in any hospital.

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