Two other infants who had stayed at Newark University Hospital died last week, bringing the total to three deaths linked to a bacterial epidemic in the neonatal intensive care unit since September, the department said Tuesday. of State Health.
The health department sent an inspection team to the hospital on Tuesday after learning that the University's infection control program had not been informed of the deaths of two more babies.
"An investigative team from the department is on hand today to investigate hospital-wide notification policies, governance, and other factors related to the reporting of case fatalities at the hospital. course of an ongoing epidemic, "announced the announcement.
According to the announcement of the Department of Health, the cause of death is not clear because it was premature babies with other medical problems. Two of the infants died after being transferred to other hospitals.
A total of four infants have been exposed to the bacterium Acinetobacter baumannii, an infection contracted at the hospital since September. The two babies who died last week contracted the infection six weeks ago.
The fourth child exposed left the hospital last month, said Department of Health spokeswoman Donna Leusner.
Anonymous state & # 39; employee concerned & # 39; alerted by an epidemic at the hospital
Dana Yeganian, a spokeswoman for the hospital, said the staff "has been working diligently since the discovery of the bacteria Acinetobacter baumannii in our neonatal intensive care unit to control the outbreak and that it is not a problem. no new cases have been reported to the NICU since October, and we continue to strengthen procedures and protocols with our team. "
Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal ordered the hospital last month to recruit a certified infection control practitioner after an inspection revealed "major deficiencies in infection control "with" hand hygiene measures, personal protective equipment and cleanliness ".
The hiring of an infection control practitioner was part of the state's "correction plan" for New Jersey's only public hospital.
The Ministry of Health was informed of the outbreak and death of the first child by an anonymous employee, said Elnahal.
Senate Committee on Health, Human Services and Seniors Holds Hearing on Unlinked Outbreaks in Children's Health Facilities Monday: University Hospital, Wanaque Rehabilitation Center, where 11 Children Died , and Voorhees Pediatric Center. where 13 children were infected but none died.
Susan K. Livio can be contacted at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @SusanKLivio. Find NJ.com Politics on Facebook.