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Expert stress on beds, equipment for baby care
- Delhi-AIIMS doctor inspects health hubs, appalled at dearth of facilities and skilled personnel

An expert from New Delhi-AIIMS on Friday inspected the special care newborn unit (SCNU) and neo-natal intensive care unit (Nicu) at two premier health hubs and stressed on an overhaul of the present facilities.

SCNU is a level-II service care unit, while Nicu is a level-III unit for newborn babies. Ashok Kumar Deorari, professor (paediatrics and neonatology) from AIIMS inspected the units at Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) and Nalanda Medical College and Hospital (NMCH). Nicu is an intensive-care unit specialising in the care of ill or premature newborns.

New Delhi-AIIMS and Unicef have assisted the state government in establishing SCNUs and Nicus in Bihar and are providing technical assistance to upgrade it.

Dr Deorari first visited NMCH where he inspected the facilities provided to newborns and their mothers in both units. At NMCH, there are 20 beds in the SCNU and four in the Nicu.

Talking to The Telegraph, Dr Deorari said: “Although the doctors and nurses take good care of infants admitted at both the units, there is an urgent need of more space for the unit owing to patient inflow. The area is over-congested and needs expansion.”

He added: “Facilities being provided to mothers need to be upgraded. There should be more seating arrangements in the unit and provision of uninterrupted water supply.”

He also talked to the nurses and enquired about some drugs given to the infants. He said: “The nurses failed to provide correct information on the drugs.”

The paediatrics head of department, NMCH, Dr A.K. Thakur admitted to shortage of trained nurses and other paramedical staff. He said there was no separate team of nurses for SCNU and Nicu. At present, nurses from the paediatric department shuttle between these units and the intensive care unit.

Dr Thakur apprised Dr Deorari of shortage of postgraduate (PG) students at both these units. At present, only two PG students have been deputed at SCNU and Nicu, he said, though at least five PG students are required.

The SCNU and Nicu at NMCH also lack medical officers, neonatologists and equipment. “We need more ventilators and continuous positive airway pressure. There is no X-Ray machine owing to which infants are carried to the radiology department, Dr Thakur said.

The unit also lacks its ultrasound or ECG machine. The special care units for infants also need a separate paediatric surgeon and a cardiologist, Dr Thakur said, suggesting an exchange programme between NMCH and Delhi-AIIMS of doctors and other support staff.

At PMCH, Dr Deorari interacted with the doctors of paediatrics ward acquiring a first-hand knowledge of how they are running the SCNU and Nicu at the hospital.

Nicu in-charge, PMCH, Dr Sheela Sinha too admitted a space crunch at the units. She said: “Sometimes, when patient inflow is high, we have to keep 2-3 babies on one bed.” There are 22 beds in Nicu at PMCH.