A pregnant woman, tested positive for COVID-19, had to deliver her baby in an ambulance when she was being transferred from a district hospital in Tripura’s Kumarghat area to the apex state referral hospital in Agartala, which is 130 km away.
Laxmi Rani Chowdhury, 25, was taken to a district hospital at Kailashahar in Unakoti district on the morning of July 28, Tuesday. She underwent a mandatory rapid antigen test on arrival, where she tested positive for COVID-19. The hospital authorities referred her to Govind Ballabh Panth (GBP) Hospital in Agartala immediately on grounds of infrastructure shortage.
The ambulance carrying her also dropped another COVID-19 patient to Kumarghat Hospital, which was 30 km from the district hospital. Once there, Laxmi developed pain and her relatives sought help from the hospital authorities, who kept her under observation for an hour. Since the patient did not go into labour, she was again referred to Agartala.
The 130 km long journey from Kumarghat to Agartala usually takes 3:30-4 hours by road. The patient went into labour when the vehicle was crossing Atharomura Range in Khowai district, 50 km from her destination, and delivered a male child in the vehicle. Her family got some help from Teliamura sub-divisional hospital in the vicinity but the patient had a retained placenta and was further referred to GBP Hospital in Agartala.
After three hospitals and a full day of the journey, Laxmi and her child were admitted at GBP late night on Tuesday.
Speaking to indianexpress.com, Dr Bidhan Goswami, Resident Medical Officer at GBP Hospital, said both mother and child are now admitted to the hospital’s COVID ward. “Both of them are safe and fine. The mother tested positive for COVID-19 and the newborn was exposed to her for quite some time. Besides, the baby needs breastfeeding. So, we have kept them together in the COVID ward,” he said.
Tripura Health Director Dr Subhashish Debbarma said an inquiry has been initiated on the issue and authorities at Kailashahar’s district hospital have been asked to submit a report within two days on the allegations of denying treatment to Laxmi.
“We have stressed that any COVID-19 patient approaching the hospitals should be provided with treatment and service. There is a complaint that the gynaecologist on duty didn’t admit the patient after she tested positive with coronavirus. If this is true, punitive actions will be taken,” the official said.
However, the district hospital’s medical superintendent Dr Samarendra Debbarma said he discussed with his seniors before referring the patient to GBP Hospital and claimed the decision had to be taken due to unavoidable infrastructure shortage.
“We have a single labour room, one operation theatre with us though we are a district hospital. We have a COVID ward but, as per instructions, we refer any serious COVID-19 patient or those needing serious treatment like deliveries to GBP Hospital at Agartala. We did the same with this patient. We have heard she delivered her child on the way,” he said.
Unakoti Chief Medical Officer Dr Saradindu Riyang could not be reached for his comments.
Earlier on July 26, a 76-year-old COVID-19 patient died at Tripurasundari District Hospital at Udaipur, 50 km away from Agartala, as the authorities denied to admit him and tried to refer him to GBP Hospital here. The health department has summoned a report on the incident as well.
So far, 4,287 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Tripura, among which 2,621 have recovered and were discharged from hospital. The death toll stands at 21, which includes mostly veterans with co-morbidities. At least 4,100 people are currently under medical surveillance in the state.
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