Maternity care in Kashmir cries out under overload

When Anbumani Ramadoss promised Rs 50 crore for up gradation of Kashmir's only maternity facility — the Lal Ded Hospital – in 2007,there was hope for change. Two years later,even that hope has died.

Written by Majid Jahangir | Srinagar | Published: February 27, 2009 11:52 am

When the Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss promised Rs 50 crore for up gradation of Kashmir’s only maternity facility — the Lal Ded Hospital – during his valley visit in 2007,there was hope for change. Two years later,even that hope has died.

The patients complain of a total break down of healthcare system in the hospital. The hospital administration,however,blames overloading as its biggest problem. Lal Ded is Kashmir’s lone maternity hospital and thus admits patients from every corner of the valley. However,to add to their woes,the hospital is deficient in space,nursing and other paramedic staff.

The hospital beds are regularly occupied by two to three patients. In ward number 318 bed number 20 – two patients shift uneasily on the same bed,one’s feet touching other’s head. The hospital which has capacity of 450 beds has always more than 600 patients admitted,thus forcing patients to share beds.

Men and women in hordes are seen waiting in lobbies,waiting rooms,wards,outside the labour room and some even find direct access to it.

Medical Superintendent Shahida Mir said the hospital is for tertiary care only but they even receive patients who have calcium and iron deficiency.

“We have 8000 patients visiting in OPD from only Budgam and Pulwama districts in a month. How much can the hospital do,” she said. “We have to equip the district hospitals to shed the overloading here. The referral system in the valley is defunct too”

Officials said that 100 -150 patients get admitted daily for deliveries and more than 50 patients are admitted for other gynaecological operations. There are 80-100 deliveries daily,nearly half of them Caesarean sections in the hospital. This alarming number had even earned it a warning by the Union Health Ministry last year.

The labour room too is overloaded. The capacity of the labour room is for 39 patients,containing only 13 rooms with each room having three beds for three patients. The rush of labour room is tremendous and the doctors are forced to admit more patients,thus each bed has three patients and sometimes patients deliver on the floors of the delivery room. The post operative ward too is overloaded.

The overworked resident doctors complain of shifts lasting into the next day,and say not only are the patients a problem but also the long list of attendants who come with them.

“We are barely managing. The problem is aggravated because of the overloading,” a doctor said.

The casualty in the hospital is run by a single post graduate student and all the admitted patients are seen by the casualty doctor. The doctor on duty in causality has to even file the medical records of the patients. In addition,the doctor has to conduct minor 15 procedures like D&C (Dilation and curettage) daily.

The Principal Medical College Mushtaq Ahmed Shah who is heading all the associated hospital said that the over loading is the major problem.

“We are going to add 200 beds to the Lal Ded hospital in next two years and hopefully it will help to a large extent,” he said.

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