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Jun 26, 2013

K.H.M.H. babies dead and PAHO report shows intravenous transmission of bacteria

Thirteen babies died in less than a month at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital in May. Seven of the deaths were caused by a bacteria called Enterobacter Cloacae. But why did so many have to die before the K.H.M.H. closed down the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit? And would anyone be fired for the tragedy? The Pan American Health Organization was invited to assess and investigate the hospital. Its findings were released today and outlined a litany of shortcomings throughout the hospital. Lack of equipment, soap, space, supplies and sterile areas were all discussed in the report. But there were some shocking inefficiencies even when while the PAHO officials made their rounds. The doctor assigned to the Infection Control Program had little interaction with the officials. And the first set of samples that provided evidence of the bacteria was destroyed. Communication was clearly an issue and K.H.M.H. C.E.O., Francis Gary Longsworth, said the media misquoted him and he now claims he did not learn about the bacterial outbreak from the media. The Ministry of Health’s C.E.O., Peter Allen, admitted that the report showed the route of transmission of the infection was done by injection, placing the spotlight on activities in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.


Dr. Francis Gary Longsworth, C.E.O., K.H.M.H.

Francis Gary Longsworth

“But I believe I was misquoted. I have not bothered to make an issue of it because the media will report what they choose to report. But I don’t recall saying I learnt about this outbreak through the media.”


Dr. Francis Gary Longsworth, C.E.O., K.H.M.H. [File: May 23rd, 2013]

“It went out to the media, one of the parents went to the media I believe, and that actually prompted the investigation because up to that point, we were not aware that situation was developing. It really became apparent when the babies died in significant numbers in a short period of time.”


Jose Sanchez

“He said he didn’t know until families went to the media on the Friday prior to the press conference. Should he have known being that he is the helm of that ship?”


Peter Allen

Peter Allen, C.E.O., Ministry of Health

“I believe he should have known. I believe that what Dr. Longsworth was trying to clarify is that…I think he said he felt he’d been misreported. But perhaps he actually misspoke. The way you just mentioned it to me was the way I heard it. But what I think he would be able to clarify, if you ask him, is that he knew about it a little earlier, but he received official notice following the announcement on the media.”


Jose Sanchez

“Help me along, I’m not a doctor…intravenous; explain to me what that means in terms of how the bacteria was transmitted.”


Peter Allen

“Well intravenous—and you can see it on your own arm—literally is from the Latin intra which is in and the venous meaning vein…so into your vein. So intravenous therapy is when normally through a needle puncture something is entered directly into your vein. In the case of these tiny babies, and understand that the neonatal clients in our neonatal intensive care unit are often as small as two pounds. If you think about an average newborn between seven and eight pounds; these are very vulnerable babies and often times they can’t swallow or feed in the normal ways. And often they receive their medication intravenously…so directly into their veins.”


Jose Sanchez

“The PAHO Report says it’s intravenous the way the bacteria infected these neonates.”


Peter Allen

“Yes, that is exactly what the PAHO reports says and it says that the most likely route of the infection is from transmissions through intravenous therapies.”


Jose Sanchez

“So would you accept it occurred in the Neonatal intensive Care Unit?”


Peter Allen

“Well I will accept exactly what the report suggests that that is the most likely route of the infection. The processes in hospitals; in general, the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital is far too complex to indicate an individual. Now it may be and there certainly appears to be—reading the report—a series of systematic breakdown systems at the hospital. Principally, what we would like to say in the aftermath of this tragic outbreak of the bacteria at the K.H.M.H. intensive care unit is that we as healthcare professionals are really sorry for the loss for the families; we would like to express our condolences, we would like to express our sympathies and we’d like to make sure that we provide as much information as to what has been going on in terms of the investigation and what will be going on in terms of the implementation of the recommendations as possible. I know it is the intent of the Karl Heusner Memorial Executive to meet with the staff to make sure that the staff understands what are the concerns. If you go over to the K.H.M.H. now, you will see the signs that have been put in place; you’ll see that certain procedures and protocols have been put in place. Infection control procedures at a hospital are important and I think this is one of the most important lessons that we all learn from the incident here. And it is important that we learn these lessons and move forward. What I want to do is to make sure we give our commitment and that the Belizean public understands our commitment from the Ministry of Health and from the K.H.M.H. to implement all of the recommendations in the shortest possible time and to monitor and evaluate that those recommendations are having the desired effect.”



“How do you encourage the public that someone will be held responsible for this?”


Peter Allen

“Well of course the point is that I can’t promise you that anybody will be fired; the same way I can’t promise you that we will be able to find replacement staff if anybody resigns. We operate in a difficult environment for specialists and human resources, but we have to go by the report. And the report is truly independent; we really have not tried to hide anything and the Pan American Health Organization is the most reputable organization of its kind in the Americas.”


We’ll have more on the PAHO report later in the newscast.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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14 Responses for “K.H.M.H. babies dead and PAHO report shows intravenous transmission of bacteria”

  1. Rod says:

    People need to go to jail 13 babies are dead because of total incompetence but the pm judas barrow say he no k neighter him nor anyone who works for him need to even explain anything they don’t care about your babies who have died because of negligence they couldn’t care less and the pm is telling all you mothers and fathers to your face that he doesn’t give a damm that your baby is dead then to top it off they mix up the bodies sue sue sue sue this pm personally I can bet you that this pm children do not have to go to this death trap of a hospital they go to the us or uk and spend your tax dollars while your children are murdered by incompetence of this pm and gov.

  2. MNORTH says:


  3. ABC says:

    Why should people not be fired? They didn’t even cooperate with the investigators.

  4. disownmicountry says:

    The CEO and all those management positions she be fired or forced to retire. The ate a bunch of incompetents. All hospitals & medical facilities should have strict policies & procedures in place to deal with everything regarding patient care. What a bunch of third world idiots!

  5. disownmicountry says:

    The CEO and all those in management positions she be fired or forced to retire. They are a bunch of incompetents. All hospitals & medical facilities should have strict policies & procedures in place to deal with everything regarding patient care. What a bunch of third world idiots!

  6. Mel says:

    If standard precautions were being followed along with sterile procedures this could have been prevented. I have gathered from the report that standard precautions are not being carried out. Part of standard precautions means hand hygiene. Wash hands before and after entering a room and with each patient contact. Washing hands before coming in contact reduces the risk of infection. Washing hands reduces infection. It is the cheapest form of infection control. Keep in mind hands must be washed with soap and water for 15 seconds. I do hope they implement and monitor good infection control practices. My condolences to the families who were affected by such a preventable tragedy.

  7. P. M. says:

    Pablo speaks when it matters, 13 dead babies is nothing.

  8. Al says:

    The I do not give a damn attitude that the workers in the hospital have is a problem. These nurses and doctors forget that they are being paid to care for the welfare of the people. The way they talk to an treat the people is a shame. Nurses will not miss their lunch hour to get a pill for a patient, dis da fe me lunch hour, yu get it when I come back. Those kinds of things are unacceptable. In the medical field there are no holidays, no long weekend shut down, hospital are a 24/7 operation, except in Belize.

    This country needs a total overhaul, like an old condemned building it needs to be torn down and rebuilt from the ground floor up. New standards needs to be set and enforced. New hiring and termination policies needs to be enforced. Nurses should not only be evaluated by the head nurses, but patient input should also be considered.

    We need change but it will not come until honest caring people are elected into office. This may take a new party to accomplish this, how about it, let’s get it started.

  9. disownmicountry says:

    All: I could not agree with you more.

  10. disownmicountry says:

    Al,could not agree with you more.

  11. disownmicountry says:

    Al, I could not agree with you more.

  12. Retired CEO says:

    I agree with most of the above written blogs, health care providers should follow the highest form of precaution, physical cleanliness coupled with good moral and ethical practices. From the current CEO to the individuals who were in charge of the maternity ward should be forced to resign or fired in a fairly good amount of time. The minister in charge of health care should be replaced immediately. This would be the least likely action that a responsible Government would do, however, it appears as if PM has very little concern or none at all about this despicable situation. Finally, money can not buy everything or anything in this very important matter, however it certainly goes along way in showing remorse and sympathy for the loved ones of these babies. Therefore, they should be all awarded some sort of a stipend/cash by the GOB to show that the health care givers care about the well being of every citizen of the Jewel.

  13. Belizean who care says:

    This is a wake up call for people in Belize .They are too laid back and accept every and anything.The Government needs to comply with regulatory standards and train people so they can be held accountable. In Belize if you know someone, you can get a job without any training, no orientation to the job, no guidelines, nothing. I know someone who was in the US, got a job in Belize and left New York on Sunday to go to work on the following Monday. No interview and with no experience in the job which he was given. That is the norm for Belizeans and yet this person is expected to make crucial decisions that will affect people’s way of life in Belize. Wake up Belize. How many more lives will it take?

  14. ON Time says:

    And Belize wants to get into Medical Tourism???? Never in a million years will anybody want to come to Belize if word of this gets out to the world. Belize has a long ways to go, it’s still a third world country, with limited infrastructure.

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