Queen Elizabeth Hospital A Safe Place To Stay And Visit

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Infectious Disease Specialist, Dr. Corey Forde (centre)speaking to the media. He is flanked by Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joy St. John (left) and Head of Paediatrics, Dr. Clyde Cave (right). (G. Brewster/BGIS)??

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) continues to be a safe place for both patients and visitors.

This message was reinforced by the hospital’s Infectious Disease Specialist, Dr. Corey Forde, today at a Press briefing to address an increase in the prevalence of an infectious organism known as Klebsiella Pneumoniae at the QEH over the last 18 months.

Dr. Forde emphasised that one of the ways to control any further spread of the bacteria was for members of the public to employ good "hand hygiene practices" when visiting the hospital.

??"We want the public to understand that they can help the whole process by observing basic hygiene practices – there are hand sanitisers at the entry of the hospital and all of the wards -?? in an effort to protect themselves and other individuals," he urged.

The specialist said the hospital had increased surveillance on its end as well as supplies through its Infection Control Unit by providing protective equipment to wards and units. He added that there were also several nurses tasked with making sure that basic health care practices and guidelines were implemented and followed.

"One of the things we’ve done so far is to screen our patients on the units where the bacteria has been found. Surveillance represents an important part of controlling any type of organism of this sort," he stated.

Head of Paediatrics at the hospital, Dr. Clyde Cave told the media that while the hospital had been monitoring and treating the bacteria for the past year and a half, it was only recently – last Thursday – that a new strain had been discovered on the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). This was a concern since that unit cared for premature babies. So far, three samples of the bacteria had been identified on the NICU, he noted. He explained that this particular strain was still responsive to antibiotics.

Dr. Cave said the problem of drug resistant strains of Klebsiella Pneumonia stemmed from a "culture of antibiotic use" in Barbados. The bacteria was usually present in healthy individuals without making them ill but affected those with weakened or compromised immune systems.

Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Joy St. John, said Klebisella Pneumonia was one of the "normal flora that is found in the human mouth, gut and skin". She explained it was often seen as an issue for hospital acquired infections in adult males.

Dr. St. John added that the hospital recorded cases of the infection in adults over the past 18 months but called in the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) to review the hospital’s systems because of changes in the epidemiological profile of the organism.

Caribbean Programme Co-ordinator, for the PAHO, Dr. Ernest Pate, explained that the bacteria was not peculiar to Barbados but was a global problem.

"This is a problem that is seen worldwide. There are some countries where virtually in every hospital, you will see resistance to Klebsiella. As a result, in 2010 PAHO put together a resolution for collaboration of countries in the western hemisphere to tackle this problem. Their laboratories cooperate; they look at the resistance patterns and there is an increase in surveillance.

"What the data out of that network is showing is that there is a significant increase in the number of countries in the hemisphere that are showing up with the resistant strains of Klebsiella. It is something we are seeing globally and it is something we have to tackle," Dr. Pate acknowledged.

A PAHO team is currently in Barbados to review the hospital’s surveillance system over the next three days. They are expected to make recommendations to strengthen surveillance at the QEH.

melissa.rollock@barbados.gov.bb

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