Absence of a life-support system at the civil hospital here claimed the life of a child born premature on Wednesday morning. While the father, a rickshaw-puller, alleges negligence, doctors have expressed helplessness in the absence of proper equipment.
Babita (25), a Basti Mithu resident, delivered twins around 3am on Wednesday. Born two months premature, one of the newborns died as the paediatrics ward lacks a ventilator. The other child, born minutes later, had to be taken to a private hospital where its condition is said to be improving.
"If we had the ventilator, efforts could have been made for further treatment," admitted SS Nagla, paediatrician at the civil hospital, who added that in case of premature delivery, "there is an immediate need to put the baby on ventilator to expand its lungs", as at the time of birth of such babies their lungs are squeezed. "We also need doctors to observe such cases closely, but the hospital neither has proper staff nor equipment."
Civil surgeon Dr RL Bassan said there are at least five such cases every month, which they have to refer to private hospitals. "The government has to provide these facilities, I cannot comment on the absence of equipment as such," he added.
The family of Babita said she was admitted to the hospital on Tuesday night and was in the maternity waiting list. Her husband Satish Kumar told the media that on Wednesday morning, as her labour pains started, she delivered a child on her bed before she could be taken to the labour room. They informed the staff on duty and, in the meantime, Babita delivered the second baby.
Then she was taken to labour room and from there the twins were referred to the paediatric ward. Satish alleged that the doctors told him to take the newborns to some other hospital with better facilities. Before he could make a decision, one child died.
Satish said the condition of the other child is better now, though the private hospital had told him that the treatment would cost around Rs 1.5 lakh.
Civil hospital medical superintendent Dr Gurinder Kaur Brar sought to offset the criticism: "When Babita was admitted to the hospital, she did not have any test report regarding her pregnancy history, and the doctors were not in position to understand her case properly."
On July 25, a newborn had died at the same hospital due to alleged negligence of the staff. The staff had refused to put the jaundice-ridden baby in the photo-therapy unit -- a necessity - after the poor parents could not pay the Rs 200 fee.
In the latest case, however, the equipment just was not available. In August alone, there were 355 deliveries conducted at the hospital.