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Rotunda NICU admissions capped to mitigate outbreak risk

Admissions to the Rotunda Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) remain capped to mitigate the risk of further outbreaks of infections.

Earlier this year, an outbreak of extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)-producing Klebsiella resulted in the NICU closing to external admissions and transfer of babies to the National Maternity Hospital, Dublin, and Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital, Dublin, in what was a “major operational crisis” for the hospital.

The primary causal factor for the outbreak in the NICU was “spatial restrictions due to the current aged infrastructure”.

A meeting of the Rotunda’s board in September heard that admissions to the NICU were capped at 14 to mitigate the risk of further outbreaks, with normal capacity being 19. It was noted that hypothermic treatment is only available in the Dublin maternity hospitals.

According to a Rotunda spokesperson, “The cap as a mitigation measure is still in place.” They added that “all babies that require hypothermic treatment have received appropriate treatment and on time”.

Last year, the Medical Independent reported that an outbreak of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) at the Rotunda’s NICU contributed to the severity of illness in two babies who died due to the complications of prematurity.

In June this year, the Rotunda’s Master Prof Fergal Malone told the board of his “serious concerns” regarding the “sustainability” of the hospital infrastructure, noting there was “no progression” of co-location to Connolly Hospital since an announcement in 2015 by now Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

The Rotunda’s board has been considering the possibility of a major fundraising drive to help address infrastructural shortfalls at its Parnell Square campus.

However, the hospital confirmed this is not being progressed.

“The Rotunda Hospital are expecting to source most of [the] funds for capital development from exchequer sources. In parallel the Rotunda Hospital will continue to work closely with the Rotunda Foundation in developing a short- and medium-term fundraising campaign to support the needs of the hospital.”

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