Prince George’s Hospital Center unit to reopen Monday

WASHINGTON — The Prince George’s Hospital Center’s neonatal intensive care unit is scheduled to reopen Monday, now that leaders are confident that the appearance of a potentially deadly bacteria has been addressed.

In August, three infants in the NICU at the hospital in Cheverly tested positive for the bacterium Pseudomonas, which was traced to the unit’s water supply system.

The NICU was scrubbed down, the water system treated, and the NICU reopened in October, only to be closed again in November when the bacterium reappeared, and two more infants tested positive.

The bacterium is common in water systems, and an infection can cause mild illness in a healthy person. But people with compromised immune systems who become infected with Pseudomonas can get very sick or even die.

The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been investigating what happened at the Prince George’s Hospital Center and how to prevent it from happening again.

The hospital says the CDC could not nail down the specific source for the bacterium that was detected in November, but it may have gotten there through breast pump equipment, incubator humidifier reservoirs, human skin or breast milk.

Since the first detection, the hospital has upgraded its water treatment system and has taken other preventive steps.

The hospital says testing of the NICU’s water for Pseudomonas has been negative for 19 straight weeks.

All but one of the 15 babies transferred out of the NICU to Children’s National Medical Center in August and November are now home.

One is still hospitalized for complications unrelated to Pseudomonas.

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Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter turned morning anchor at WTOP News.

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