When Sara Bano (name changed) was shifted in the dead of night on September 7 from the flooded lone maternity hospital, Lal Ded in Srinagar's Wazirbagh area, to the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial (JLNM) Hospital, her hours old baby was safe but the mother's stitches had given in while being carried on a stretcher to a boat and later to a vehicle.
She was re-stitched like many others. For expecting mothers, the Valley floods were the most trying, hitting them on unexpected times. "We re-stitched operated mothers in at least seven cases. They were admitted bleeding during Sunday night and on Monday.
Around 15 babies were saved due to timely intervention," Dr Syed Faheem Bukhari told the HT. He along with gynaecologists Dr Sabeena and Dr Rukhsana, hold the fort for three days, with operation theatre working round the clock. They decided to stay there and attended to 60 delivery cases in most pressing times with little manpower and resources. "Fifteen high-risk cases, otherwise super-speciality hospital cases, were operated here only.
There was no point referring these cases to any other hospital as none was accessible due to floods," said Dr Bukhari, whose sister and uncle were also stranded and untraced in Gogji Bagh area.
"All were suffering. We had to carry on with the duties," he added. The JLNM was the only district hospital in Srinagar, which was not hit by floods. Dozens of expecting mothers were shifted from the leading maternity Lal Ded Hospital for deliveries from September 7 to 9, when the Valley was battling the worst floods swarming Srinagar after more than a century.
"Around 200 caesarean sections were conducted during the crisis time, more than 60 on first three days," said JLNM superintendent Dr Iqbal Ahmad. On September 12, five gynaecologists and two theatre assistants were airlifted to relieve the exhausted staff. "The hospital was able to attend to patients with only half the staff as the rest were stranded or unable to reach," admitted Dr Iqbal. The hospital secured diesel from Ladakh and moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq provided 150 litres to keep the theatre running.
However, another expecting mother, Anisa Jan (named changed), had to rely on traditional midwives only. "We helped in normal deliveries in three cases. We could not arrange doctors immediately so sought help of elderly women," said Habibullah Jeelani, in-charge relief with the Awami Action Commitee, in the old city.
One can gauge the enormity of the times that several delivery cases were attended under candlelight at the Lal Ded Hospital. Officials claim Srinagar registered 2,297 normal deliveries and 1260 caesarean sections during the crisis time. Hospitals in Srinagar continue to battle even after three weeks. While officials resumed duties, poor infrastructure hampers the services.