The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Neo-natal unit on hi-tech path

Almost a week after 14 children died in 48 hours, the government on Saturday decided to upgrade the neo-natal unit of B.C. Roy Memorial Hospital for Children with more sophisticated equipment.

Meanwhile, two more children died on Saturday — one of them of septicaemia — doctors at the hospital said. Admission continued to dwindle, with only 17 patients being admitted to the hospital on Saturday.

A senior health official said chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, during his visit to the hospital last Wednesday, had suggested certain steps to improve the infrastructure of the hospital, which included installation of more sophisticated machinery at the neo-natal unit.

Following the chief minister’s suggestion, a meeting was held and it was decided that an intensive therapy unit (ITU) would be set up at the neo-natal unit. Also, more doctors and paramedical staff would be deployed at the hospital to man the ITU and operate the sophisticated equipment.

Three more paramedical staff will be posted in the X-ray unit to assist technicians who find it difficult to cope with the rush of patients on weekdays.

Meanwhile, director of health services Prabhakar Chatterjee arrived at the hospital on Saturday afternoon on a surprise inspection. Chatterjee went round the medical and surgical wards and held a meeting with the officials.

Health secretary Asim Barman said the three-member committee of senior health officials inquiring into the deaths of the children would also find out whether some of the deaths could have been prevented by using the existing equipment of the neo-natal unit and whether the instruments used in treatment worked properly.

Health department sources said the committee would interview superintendent of the hospital Anup Mandal and find out whether his complaints of lack of infrastructure were valid.

“We want to find out what prompted Mandal to make such allegations. The committee will take the help of media reports during investigation if necessary. The report is expected by next week,” an official said.

It is learnt that the government will open paediatric wings in rural hospitals as part of the ongoing Rs 700-crore World Bank project to develop hospitals in districts, sub-divisions and blocks. “This will help reduce the load on referral hospitals like B.C. Roy hospital,” an official said. The existing paediatric wings at the sub-divisional, state general and district hospitals will also be upgraded.

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