Born in a pandemic: Hospital provides shelter to family of newborn in Pune

The woman came to Pune with her partner from Pandharpur via a train before they were stranded at the Pune railway station for two days.
Ranabai with her family at Kamla Nehru Hospital.
Ranabai with her family at Kamla Nehru Hospital.
Updated on Apr 07, 2020 10:54 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, Pune | ByShalaka Shinde, Pune

Two-day-old Laxmi turned red as she struggled to break into a cry when the summer heat irritated her tender skin. Her mother, 35-year-old Ranabai, tried to comfort her and in that moment she was oblivious to the imminent issue of homelessness and starvation that her family was facing. The Kamla Nehru Hospital has provided the family of four temporary respite by providing them shelter at the hospital until the lockdown is in place.

The woman came to Pune with her partner from Pandharpur via a train before they were stranded at the Pune railway station for two days. They were picked up by the Pune police and brought to the shelter created by Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) at Mahatma Phule High School on Dhole Patil road.

As the woman recovering from the child’s delivery, blew on her neck, the child smiled. “See, the gods made her smile for us,” she says as her partner frets about the last Rs 50 they were left with. As a native of Uttar Pradesh, the woman barely speaks any Marathi.

Ranabai’s partner is Sahebrao Bhimrao Adagale, 50, who stands at the end of the corridor outside the postnatal care ward. Dr Lata Trimbake, medical superintendent at Kamla Nehru Hospital, had taken the decision to let the family stay at the hospital. The hospital has made an exception for the family in such unnatural times as Covid19 pandemic has gripped the world.

During the routine rounds of PMC medical staff at the shelter homes, the doctors found the woman in labour on the afternoon of April 4.

“The health department has appointed 15 teams and one of the doctors found Ranabai in the shelter. When the doctor reached, her labour pain had already begun. An ambulance was called and she was brought here. Primary investigation was conducted and a letter was given to her as she did not have an antenatal card. The baby was 2.7kg and has no complications,” said Dr Trimbake.

The family is getting food from the service provided by a volunteer named Subhash Jadhav. The hospital has provided them with a babycare kit, bedsheet, and blankets for the mother and the baby.

The couple is not legally married, they do not hold any document to prove their identity and only skill that the man-woman duo hold is that of cutting sugarcane and cooking, respectively.

“I’m from a village near Georai in Beed. I met her when she was begging at the Pune railway station around 7-8 years ago. We never got married, but we have been together ever since. Cutting sugarcane was an honest day’s work for good 3-4 months in Pandharpur before it shut down. I picked scrapped for a couple of days, but could not make any money. Then, they picked us up and brought us to the shelter. Now, I do not even have money for a cup tea. How will I care for a newborn?” says Adagale.

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