The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Supercare duo in health debut
‘Revolutionary’ reconstructive surgery, neonatal units at SSKM

Two advanced healthcare facilities make their debut at SSKM Hospital on Thursday — one for newborns and the other a reconstructive microvascular surgery unit, revolutionising the surgery and management of trauma and cancer.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is scheduled to throw open the facilities on Saraswati puja.

The Rs 2-crore unit for neonatal care has been set up by the health department, while the advanced centre for plastic and microvascular surgery is a joint venture between the state government and West Bank Hospital. Both units are the first of their kind in eastern India.

Reconstructive microvascular surgery will ensure speedier recovery, better functional rehabilitation and improved results to patients at a reduced cost. The health department plans to start an education-cum-training unit for young surgeons here.

The neonatal care unit is for babies in the age group of one minute to 28 days, weighing less than 2 kg. Of the annual 1,551 live births at SSKM, less than two per cent are by normal delivery, since the hospital handles only complicated cases. And in about 10 per cent of the live births, the newborns require life-support for survival.

According to health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra, the unit will offer neonatal care at ‘level-III rating’ and this quality of care is available only in two or three other cities in India.

“Newborn problem-babies are the most neglected. But 90 per cent of them can survive with proper neonatal care,” said principal secretary Asim Barman. “We propose to introduce a neonatalogy course at SSKM and the process is on,” he added.

According to SSKM’s surgeon superintendent D.D. Chattopadhyay, neonatal care at this level will cost nothing less than Rs 6,000 daily elsewhere. At SSKM, the rates are Rs 400 a day.

A young doctor from Delhi’s All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, Arun Singh, has been put in charge of the neonatal nursery. “Every newborn has a right to survive” is the motto of his unit, says Singh.

The National Neonatalogy Forum, a national level consultative body, has already accredited SSKM with level-II neonatal care facilities last year. And the government has taken up a scheme three months ago to uplift the status to level-III.

The zero-bacteria chamber will house a servo-control warmer, a ventilator with a central oxygen line, ‘Apnoea’ (an alarm that will ring automatically when a newborn stops breathing) to an echo colour Doppler machine to detect cardiac problems in a baby.

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