ANANTNAG: South Kashmir’s largest maternity hospital appears to have a policy for pregnant women who go into labour in the afternoon: refer them to Srinagar.
Authorities at the government-run Maternity Care Hospital in Anantnag resort to take this practice because of an acute shortage of beds in the labour room and non availability of doctors.
Ulfat, who hails from Sirigufwara, had been admitted to the hospital at about 4pm for delivery. Her brother-in-law Naseer Ahmad told Kashmir Reader that after examining her, a doctor said she was progressing towards a normal delivery.
However, when she showed no signs, her attendants approached the staff at about 9pm, only to be told that she needs to undergo caesarian section delivery.
“We told them go ahead but they said there is no bed in the labour room. They asked us to either wait till morning (when the doctors come) or take her to Srinagar,” Naseer said.
“By then she was writhing in pain and we shifted her to a private nursing home in the town where she delivered a baby boy,” Naseer said, adding that before moving to the nursing home they noticed that the Operation Theatre had been locked.
Three days ago, another woman from Anantnag town, Ishrat, was also referred to Srinagar at 4pm in an ambulance on the pretext that no bed was available in the labour room.
“Referred due to non-availability of bed” is written on the admit file of a woman. Kashmir Reader has a copy of the file.
Ishrat’s family had lodged a complaint with the Medical Superintendent of the hospital but to no avail.
On their part, the hospital authorities say that they refer only those patients who need tertiary care but the common people dismiss it as an excuse.
Bashir Ahmad, a local resident, said that he had admitted his wife to the hospital a few weeks ago for delivery.
“After initial check-up I was politely asked to shift her to Srinagar on the pretext of non-availability of bed there. When I objected I was told that the baby in the womb was not making right movements. I know this was said only to frighten me,” he said.
Surprisingly, at Lal Ded Hospital in Srinagar doctors declared mother and baby fine. “Within a couple of hours my wife delivered the baby normally,” Ahmad said.
Insiders say that lack of proper administration in the maternity facility is the main reason for the messy state of healthcare in the hospital.
“Gynaecologists posted in the hospital conduct deliveries selectively, mostly of the women who they treat at their private clinics during the pregnancy period,” said Bashir Ahmad.
Medical superintendent MCH Dr Ghulam Mohammad denied that patients are referred due to non-availability of beds.
“We refer only those patients who need tertiary care. No patient is referred due to non-availability of beds,” he added.
However when this reporter cited the examples of many patients who were referred and later delivered normally at LD or private nursing homes, the MS said, “You also know the hospital faces acute space crunch. Only yesterday a team of officials from the directorate of health who visited the hospital were surprised over the patient rush in the hospital with very little accommodation. So when all the beds are occupied what can we do other than referring the patients,” he said.