Two children who spent time at Newark University Hospital died last week, bringing the total to three deaths related to a bacterial epidemic in the neonatal intensive care unit in September, the State Department of Health announced.
The Department of Health sent a hospital inspection team Tuesday after learning its own infection control program at the University was not informed that two more children died.
"A Department's research team is today on-the-spot to investigate internal hospitalization policies, notification, governance, and other factors that relate to case-related deaths reporting during an ongoing outbreak," according to the announcement.
The cause of death is unclear because they were premature babies with other medical problems, according to the health department announcement. Two of the infants died after being transferred to other hospitals.
A total of four infants were exposed to the bacterium Acinetobacter baumannii, a hospital-acquired infection since September. The two children who died last week contracted the infection six weeks ago.
The fourth exposed child was released from hospital last month, said Health Department spokeswoman Donna Leusner.
The anonymous "concerned an employee's alert state to burst into the hospital
Dana Yeganian, the spokesperson for the hospital, said the staff "worked diligently since the bacterium Acinetobacter baumannii was discovered in our neonatal intensive care unit for the control of the outbreak and there were no new cases in NICU in October." Procedures and Protocols with our team. "
Health commissioner Shereef Elnahal last month ordered the hospital to hire a fully-experienced surgeon after an inspection that found "major infection control deficiencies" with "manual hygiene, personal protective equipment and cleanliness" .
Hiring the infection control practitioner was part of the state's "correction plan" for the only public hospital in New Jersey.
The health department first learned about the outbreak and death of the first child from an anonymous employee, Elnahal said.
The Senate State Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee is organizing a month-long audition on the outbreak of unrelated outbreaks at health care institutions that treat children: the University Hospital, the Wanaque Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, where 11 children died, and the Voorhees Pediatrics Center where 13 children were infected, but no one died.