The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Crammed cribs at BC Roy, still

Shefali Khatun is suffering from septicaemia. The 25-day-old baby, admitted to BC Roy Memorial Hospital for Children, cannot sleep properly ' sandwiched between two other babies she is forced to share the tiny cot with.

Ariti Bala (one-and-a-half months) is admitted at the same hospital with acute respiratory distress. She cannot breathe easy, sharing the oxygen pipe all day with another baby.

Crammed to the crib, BC Roy hospital remains precariously poised two years after a string of baby deaths came to light in September 2002 (see box).

Case in peril point: recent instances of cross-infection in the general wards and the doctors fighting hard to keep the infection from spreading at the Narkeldanga Main Road hospital.

For instance, three-month-old Arati Ghosh, admitted to the hospital with fever and convulsions, contracted enteric fever after she recovered from her original ailment.

The referral hospital is gasping under the pressure of patients pouring in from everywhere ' even Bangladesh ' and the authorities are the first to warn of a disaster waiting to happen.

The hospital has 175 beds, of which 36 are paid and can be occupied by only one patient. The rest of the 139 beds are now occupied by 300 patients.

Even in the neo-natal ward, three babies in critical condition have to share one bed.

Three patients at a time are undergoing photo-therapy and sharing the radiant warmer. 'We often have to put three babies on a trolley,' admitted a doctor.

Also, in some cases like Ariti, two children are sharing one oxygen supply pipe.

June to November are bad months for babies. 'This is the time when enteric fever, jaundice and bronchitis are prevalent among them and so the cases of hospitalisation are maximum during this season,' a hospital official said.

'All our doctors are working round-the-clock, but a disaster can take place any moment, as the pressure of patients is tremendous,' said M.K. Chatterjee, medical superintendent of the hospital, on Tuesday.

'Private practitioners are also referring children straight to our hospital, bypassing the local hospitals where they have paediatricians,' complained Chatterjee.

Most of these patients are not so serious and can be treated locally, claimed the medical superintendent, adding that the trend must be arrested if better treatment and care are to be provided at BC Roy.

In many cases, children are being referred by even teaching hospitals like Nil Ratan Sircar Medical College and Hospital and RG Kar Medical College and Hospital.

'It is unfortunate that despite having full-fledged paediatric units, these hospitals are referring patients to us,' an official said.

On an average, 50 patients are being admitted at the hospital every day, hospital sources said. In some free-bed wards, there are 18 beds occupied by 55 children.

The state government had sanctioned the construction of another floor with a Rs 1.2-crore loan from Hudco. But nothing seems to be happening on that front.

Chatterjee said he would submit a proposal to the state health department for the construction of a neo-natal intensive care unit and paediatric intensive care unit using the Rs 72 lakh donation by Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly.

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