Newborn babies have to share ICU beds

2011-01-24 09:52
Johannesburg - Fifteen newborn babies had to share eight beds for several days in the intensive care unit (ICU) at Dr George Mukhari Hospital in Ga-Rankuwa, northwest of Pretoria, it has emerged.

This is in spite of a warning that came after the investigation into the deaths of six babies at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital in Johannesburg in May last year, which showed that overcrowding heightens the risk of infection.

The mothers of these babies are currently engaged in a legal battle with the hospital.

DA provincial health spokesperson, Jack Bloom, said the babies were quickly moved to their own beds at Dr George Mukhari Hospital after he made enquiries on Saturday.

Shortage of equipment, staff

"The executive head of the hospital, Dr Trevor Fisher, confirmed that 15 babies had to share eight beds but said seven of the babies were moved to the high care unit. Only twins were still sharing a bed on Sunday," said Bloom.

Bloom said another big worry was that only three ventilators were available for the babies in the ICU, and there were only three trained nurses.

Fisher confirmed having solved the problems with the beds, but denied that they had a crisis with nursing staff.

"Sometimes it happens that there are many premature babies born at one time and then we don't have enough beds in the ICU.

"On Saturday we could move some of the babies to the high care unit so that each baby had its own bed," said Fisher.

He said they should get four extra beds in the ICU by the end of this week.

'No nursing crisis'

They will also receive additional equipment like ventilators and these should be set up this week.

"We aim to eventually have 20 beds in the unit. At the end of last year, 20 additional nurses were appointed."

Fisher said although hospitals will never have enough nurses, there is not a crisis at the hospital.

Bloom said the hospital helps with the births of about 12 000 babies per year and provides the only specialised care for large numbers of poor, rural people.

"It is unacceptable that overpopulating endangers the lives of newborn babies."
Read more on:    jack bloom  |  health
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