Infant Deaths in Geisinger NICU Remain a Mystery – WNEP Scranton/Wilkes-Barre

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MAHONING TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Geisinger officials are still trying to figure out the source of the waterborne bacteria that caused the deaths of three infants.

Geisinger has been in the national spotlight over the last 24 hours since announcing the deaths of three babies in its NICU. The infants contracted a pseudomonas infection from waterborne bacteria.

According to Geisinger officials, an infant in the NICU first contracted the infection in early July. In early August, another infant in the NICU died from the infection. A few weeks later, more babies got sick and two more died.

Geisinger officials said their Department of Infection Prevention is working hard to find the source of the bacteria.

“There’s no evidence that this was passed from a staff member or from baby to baby,” said Dr. Rosemary Leeming, Geisinger’s chief medical officer.

Dr. Leeming says an infant in the NICU was sick with pseudomonas in early July, and in early August another infant died from the infection.

“When we looked back, we realized that it was a similar organism to the child a month before.”

A few more weeks went by and more babies got sick. Two more infants died in September.

Geisinger says there have no new infections since then. The state Department of Health was notified after the first death.

“Once we realized this was an unusual number of infections, we felt it was important to let the public know,” Dr. Leeming said.

For the time being, Geisinger is diverting some patients to other hospitals. This includes women likely to deliver at less than 32 weeks and babies born at less than 32 weeks.

Dr. Leeming says this does not affect many people, but Geisinger employees had conversations with the people it does.

“We’ve said, ‘Here are some partner institutions that you can potentially go to.’ We are working with them to make sure that it’s as least disruptive as possible.”

People we spoke with in Danville tell Newswatch 16 the incident has not changed their minds about Geisinger.

“They’re still a wonderful hospital. I would go there. Matter of fact, my whole family goes there. We have all the trust in the world in them,” Brenda Urbina said.

Geisinger has set up a hotline for people with questions about this situation. The hotline numbers are 570-214-9087 and 570-214-9088.

So far, there have been around 100 calls, with many people asking about the safety of the water and Geisinger has assured them the water is safe.

Geisinger officials say the bacteria has not been found anywhere else in the hospital.


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