The Telegraph
Wednesday , November 28 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
CIMA Gallary

VIP visits fail to put hospital in order

Malda, Nov. 27: The infrastructure at Malda Medical College and Hospital that came into focus over crib deaths is still not in place even after high profile people inspected the facility over the past one year.

Today, the hospital authorities locked up the neonatal and paediatric wards to prevent people from crowding fearing infection among babies admitted there.

Around 150 patients are admitted to the two wards now.

Twenty-four newborns died in the hospital since November 21, including five in the past 24 hours.

The doctors and the nurses at the hospital said there had been no improvement in the facility since last year. The hospital is always overcrowded with patients having to share beds.

According to sources, in September last year, 435 babies were admitted to the medical college and the number of deaths was 50.

In October, there were 542 admissions and 54 baby deaths.

“Last year, the chief minister, the health secretary and a team from the National Commission of Child Rights from Delhi had visited the hospital. Mamata Banerjee had even sent Tridib Banerjee, a child specialist and a member of the government’s health advisory committee, to the facility (to take stock of the situation). All of them had blamed the poor infrastructure at the medical college for the crib deaths. But the situation has remained unchanged,” said a hospital source.

He added that there was shortage of medical staff with several sanctioned posts lying vacant.

“There are 130 vacant group D posts and we have only three ward masters instead of seven. Forty-five posts of nurses have to be filled up. There is a doctor at the Sick Newborn Care Unit round-the-clock, but none in the neonatal and paediatric wards,” he said.

Doctors said there was an immediate need to increase the number of beds.

“We have pointed this out to the principal of the medical college and he has said unless a new block is constructed, beds cannot be increased. We have a shortage of specialised staff and nurses,” said a doctor.

College principal Ujjwal Bhadra said more people were flocking to the hospital after it was upgraded into a medical college in 2010.

“The condition is out of our hands and that is why we have locked up the neonatal and paediatric wards and placed private security guards there today. Each patient has three to four relatives who come and go irrespective of the visiting hours. Such crowd might cause infection among the babies,” he said.

On an average 20 to 25 children, including newborns, and 60 to 70 expecting mothers are admitted to the medical college each day, sources said.

“The rate of admission increases with the onset of winter. At present, we have 24 beds in the neonatal ward and 40 beds in the paediatric ward. The number of babies occupying these 64 beds is 156. The babies that died (since November 21 this year) were not born in this hospital. All these babies were underweight when they were born and the causes of death were septicaemia, respiratory distress. There is no medical negligence on our part,” Bhadra said.