Prince George's Hospital Center's NICU to remain closed due to bacteria in water pipes

- The neonatal intensive care unit at Prince George’s Hospital Center will remain closed until further notice because of the bacteria found in the water pipes.

The detection of the bacterium Pseudomonas led to nine babies in the hospital's NICU transferred to another hospital on Aug. 9 as a precaution. An infectious disease expert is investigating whether the deaths of seven babies in the NICU since the beginning of the year are linked to the bacteria.

Pseudomonas was found in six sinks in the hospital, including four sinks in the NICU, officials said during a news conference Friday. Those sinks have since been removed and treated.

A water filtration system is now in place and the investigation is continuing. Any babies who are now in the hospital and not in the neonatal unit are being bathed with bottled water. There is also a new water filtration system being installed in the hospital.

"We have taken care in our NICU of 116 babies this year," said Sherry Perkins, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Dimensions Healthcare Systems. "These babies are especially precious to us and their families are especially precious to us, and it saddens us as a team to ever lose a baby. In this year, 2016, seven families from our NICU have had babies that did not survive and our caregivers grieved with these families. These premature babies had complex medical problems and some were as small as one to two pounds. Epidemiologists and neonatal experts are investigating any links between the deaths of any babies and the presence of Pseudomonas and the NICU water supply."

Perkins said of the nine babies transferred to Children’s National Medical Center, three were colonized with the Pseudomonas bacteria. But none of those babies have been sick with the Pseudomonas infection and they are optimistic that they will remain free of the infection.

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