| Space crunch |
May 4: Efforts on the part of the state health department have yielded positive results with more women opting for institutional delivery. However, with such deliveries increasing, maternity wards in government hospitals across the state run short of beds and the mothers and infants have to be accommodated in makeshift beds on the floor.
This shortage is not just confined to the state’s four medical colleges that receive a huge number of patients everyday. It is the same scenario in other district and civil hospitals in the state.
Increasing number of institutional deliveries plays a significant role in lowering maternal and infant mortality and ensuring the well-being of expecting and new mothers and their babies.
However, the number of women opting for such delivery at times exceeds the bed capacity in a hospital. The staff can in no way send back these patients and have to accommodate them in makeshift beds on the floor.
According to the District Level Household Survey-3 (2007-08), institutional delivery in the state figured at 35.5 per cent. However, according to the Concurrent Evaluation Survey 2009, Regional Resource Centre-NE, Union ministry of health and family welfare, the rate of institutional delivery in the state stood at 66.3 per cent.
According to the NRHM health management information system, an 11.52 per cent rise was recorded with the total institutional deliveries in the state increasing from 3,56,620 in 2008-09 to 3,97,711 in 2009-10. The number of such deliveries taking place up to December 2010 was 3,12,928.
“We conduct around 30 deliveries per day and sometimes, the number goes up to 40. We have 290 beds in the maternity ward and the problem of shortage of beds has not surfaced in the past few months. However, sometimes in case of pre-matured deliveries, the mother and baby have to remain in the hospital for a long period. While such a baby is kept in the neo-natal unit, the mother may have to share a bed with another woman to make room for more patients. Post-delivery women now have to stay in the hospital for 48 hours and though this sometimes lead to shortage of space, its benefits are numerous as we can constantly monitor both the mother and baby to rule out any complications,” said C. Das, head of the department of obstetrics and gynaecology at Gauhati Medical College and Hospital.
A woman is also required to stay in a government hospital for at least 48 hours after delivery to avail Mamata, a government scheme under which a baby kit is provided to the newborn. Hence, the increasing number of benefits has resulted in shortage of beds in government hospitals.
“We have a 50-bed maternity wing in the hospital and during the past two months, all new mothers and babies have been provided with beds. In case a large number of deliveries take place on a particular day, we accommodate the additional number of patients in folding beds that the hospital keeps stock of. Earlier, mothers and babies having a normal delivery and found fit were allowed to go home after a day. This way, more beds could be allotted to mothers undergoing Caesarean operations and having other complications. Now, however, mothers and their infants have to stay in the hospital for 48 hours to avail certain schemes. Hence, some patients even arrange mattresses on the floor to spend that much time in the hospital,” said a medical officer of the Jorhat Medical College and Hospital.
“We have 48 beds in the maternity wards at present. However, when the number of delivery cases increase, we have no other option but to arrange for makeshift beds on the floor, as we cannot deny medical care to a mother and her baby. We have also increased the capacity of a maternity ward from 6 to 8 beds to accommodate more patients. Hopefully, the new building of the hospital, currently under construction, will solve this problem,” said a doctor of Rupnath Brahma Civil Hospital at Kokrajhar.
Surprisingly, a shift from this trend has been noticed at hospitals in Dhubri, where not many expectant mothers have been found to opt for delivery in the hands of medical specialists.
According to sources, although the civil hospital has a 20-bed maternity ward, it is hardly filled to capacity. Lack of proper communication, along with the inadequate accommodation capacity in most government hospitals, are the reasons that make women opt for deliveries at home.