In­fec­tion con­trol ‘po­lice’ nurse for hos­pi­tals

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - Erica Virtue Se­nior Gleaner Writer erica.virtue@glean­

FIVE CRIT­I­CAL ar­eas of Ja­maica’s pub­lic hos­pi­tals have been ear­marked for special polic­ing to min­imise the risk of dan­ger­ous in­fec­tion-caus­ing or­gan­isms run­ning un­fet­tered. This comes in the wake of the deaths of new­born ba­bies at the Vic­to­ria Ju­bilee Hos­pi­tal (VJH) last month who con­tracted an in­fec­tion from their moth­ers dur­ing de­liv­ery.

This de­ci­sion, which forms part of the rec­om­men­da­tions of a four-man com­mit­tee set up by Health Min­is­ter Dr Christo­pher Tufton to in­ves­ti­gate the source(s) of the in­fec­tion of the new­borns and make rec­om­men­da­tions to the min­istry, will see a spe­cial­ist nurse polic­ing th­ese five crit­i­cal ar­eas of the hos­pi­tal to en­sure san­i­tary con­trol.

“For gen­eral in­fec­tion-preven­tion con­trol, we have such com­mit­tees in most hos­pi­tals. Some are more ac­tive than oth­ers. On th­ese com­mit­tees, you also have an in­fec­tion-con­trol nurse, whose re­spon­si­bil­ity it is to look be­yond what the or­di­nary nurse does. It’s a spe­cial­ist nurse, es­pe­cially in the MONIA ar­eas, who will al­most po­lice the prac­tices in th­ese ar­eas,” ac­cord­ing to Dr Lundie Richards, head of Health Ser­vice Plan­ning and In­te­gra­tion in the Min­istry of Health.


The MONIA ar­eas, ac­cord­ing to Richards, are ma­ter­nity, op­er­at­ing the­atre, neona­tal, in­ten­sive care unit, and ac­ci­dent and emer­gency.

“Th­ese five ar­eas are crit­i­cal, high­risk ar­eas. And this in­fec­tion-con­trol nurse will carry out spot checks; po­lice the ar­eas with a tool and not only look at all the prac­tices that are go­ing on, but make en­quiries,” Richards ex­plained.

He said mea­sure­ment tools are al­ready in place within the com­mit­tees (which com­prise other health pro­fes­sion­als), how­ever, in light of the re­cent new­born deaths, the min­istry will be mak­ing greater ef­forts to strengthen the com­mit­tees.

This rec­om­men­da­tion is among one of six con­tained in the com­mit­tee’s report to the min­is­ter.

Other rec­om­men­da­tions in­clude the es­tab­lish­ment of pro­to­cols, which speak to all pa­tients in pre­ma­ture labour and run­ning a fever while in labour to be swabbed and an­tibi­otic treat­ment ap­pro­pri­ately given; also, the pro­to­col for ad­min­is­ter­ing an­tibi­otic pro­phy­laxis to pa­tients with pro­longed rup­ture of mem­brane for greater than 18 hours to be changed to 12 hours. The in­fec­tion-con­trol team should also mon­i­tor to en­sure that the health min­istry’s in­fec­tion con­trol au­dit in­stru­ment, as a check list/mon­i­tor­ing tool, be strictly ad­hered to on a monthly ba­sis and carry out the ap­pro­pri­ate pro­ce­dures for rou­tine clean­ing. And, fi­nally, en­sure that the pro­to­col for coun­selling and psy­cho­log­i­cal sup­port for moth­ers with neona­tal deaths be ad­hered to.


“We have to be­come con­scious of the way we do things. For ex­am­ple, in the hos­pi­tals, the nurses, the pa­tients, the doc­tors, and the porters all have a re­spon­si­bil­ity. Sim­ple things like wash­ing hands ev­ery time you move from pa­tient to pa­tient. How of­ten do we reg­u­larly prac­tise hand wash­ing? It is just one of the many things that the in­fec­tion­con­trol per­son­nel will look for to make sure that those prac­tices are ad­hered to,” Richards told The Gleaner.

The Min­istry of Health’s new, strict pro­to­cols come against a story in last Sun­day’s Gleaner, which re­ported the deaths of seven ba­bies born at the ma­ter­nal health fa­cil­ity, four of whom died from sep­tic shock within 24 hours of being de­liv­ered.

This comes just over a year fol­low­ing the deaths of 18 ba­bies at two of the is­land’s ma­jor pub­lic hos­pi­tals, which forced the re­as­sign­ment of then health min­is­ter Dr Fen­ton Fer­gu­son.

Upon learn­ing of the re­cent tragedy, Tufton gave the com­mit­tee a week to pro­vide a report, which was made avail­able at a press con­fer­ence at the min­is­ter’s of­fice in New Kingston, St An­drew, yes­ter­day.

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