- Associated Press - Thursday, April 17, 2014

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Five years after five children died with a fungal infection contracted from hospital linens, Children's Hospital has started notifying families to tell them their loved ones were affected by the outbreak.

NOLA.com ‘ The Times-Picayune reports (http://bit.ly/1hQr5Qs) Dr. John Heaton, medical director for the New Orleans pediatric hospital, said Thursday the hospital didn’t act appropriately in informing patients’ families of the outbreak.

“It’s become increasingly clear we did not make an extraordinary effort to communicate with our patients,” Heaton said. “It’s personally appalling to me that families are finding out through the newspaper.”

Heaton said the lack of information “was not done to conceal anything or with any malicious forethought.”


He said the hospital currently has a policy of “full disclosure” to tell families of affected patients - whether living or dead - of any outbreaks of hospital-acquired infections.

Heaton said he had called two affected families Thursday and would reach out with letters to other families.

Cassandra Gee, 31, on Wednesday spoke with the newspaper - after reading an article that she believes profiled her son as being the first patient to die with mucormycosis infection in 2008.

Tyrel Caden Gee was born premature at Touro Infirmary on July 17, 2008, and died after 44 days while he was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Children’s.

Days before he passed, his mother said she saw a scratch near his groin that she says developed overnight into a major infection that ate away much of his diaper region.

Gee said she always suspected her son contracted something in the hospital, but was never informed that his illness was part of what the hospital later determined was an outbreak.

Heaton could not confirm Thursday whether Gee’s son was included in the outbreak due to patient confidentiality.

Told of Heaton’s statements, Gee said she had not heard anything from the hospital. And she was indignant after hearing that years later she might get notification from officials through the mail.

“A letter? A letter?” Gee said. “And what’s the letter supposed to say? If they couldn’t find me before how could they send me a letter now?”

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Information from: The Times-Picayune, http://www.nola.com