Dead babies at Tembisa Hospital were ‘already compromised’

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Tembisa Hospital's nursing manager matron Olga Ramatselele, communications manager Nothando Mdluli and clinical manager Dr Relebohile Ncha.

All these babies were born prematurely

In a media briefing, following the outbreak of antibiotic-resistant klebsiella that killed 10 babies, Tembisa Hospital said all the babies were born prematurely, which came with a set of challenges.

Answering questions during a marathon session with the African Christian Democratic Party’s president Rev Dr Kenneth Meshoe and the media, the hospital’s clinical manager, Dr Relebohile Ncha, joined by communications manager Nothando Mdluli and nursing manager matron Olga Ramatselele, said the infection might have been triggered by a number of things.

“What has not been in the media and public domain about these cases, is that the babies who died from the infection also had other conditions which compromised their immune system,” said Ncha.

“All these babies were born prematurely, and for a normal baby to survive outside the protective system of the mother, they need to weigh at least 2kg.“If the child is born prematurely, they are already compromised because their immune system has not developed properly. They have respiratory problems because their lungs have not developed and they also have skin challenges. They need mechanical support to assist them with breathing and everything else. The majority of these babies were in that category,” said Ncha.

She highlighted that at the point when the babies contracted the infection, they had already been compromised by all these other health issues.

“When you are looking at this infection, it is compounded by a variety of features. First of all, there’s the issue of overcrowding. Our ward is overcrowded. We are supposed to have 44 beds, but we have admitted 60-70 during the time of the infection.

“Overcrowding has an impact because infections spread easier among children. And then there’s the issue of short staff. It is another problem. The hands on deck are just not enough,” she said.

She said when a baby dies, the parents would be called and given a full report.“They leave here knowing exactly what happened,” she added.

By Mbekezeli Mbuli