KASARAGOD: Thulasi M (33), a resident of Iriyani, gave birth to a premature boy in E K Nayanar Memorial Cooperative Hospital, Cherkala, in the early hours of April 29. Just after a day in the neonatal ICU, the doctors sent the 8-month-old child and mother home on Thursday.
"Please take care of the baby. You will be safer home," a doctor reportedly told Thulasi.
Fifteen days ago, when she visited the hospital with severe pain, she had to wait for five hours before she was admitted. All the 28 beds were full. When she was admitted, Thulasi had to share the cramped room with another pregnant woman. "The other woman's mother slept on the floor, and my mother had no space. She sat on edge of the bed the whole night," she said. The next day, the doctors sent her home after giving painkillers.
"In these corona times, the proximity with other patients scared us," she said. Stressed gynaecology wing The General Hospital -- which has been converted to a COVID Care Centre -- is running its gynaecology and obstetrics department from the cooperative hospital since March 27. It posted its three gynaecologists in the hospital. The cooperative hospital, on its part, gave up 14 rooms -- with 28 beds -- for the General Hospital. In the past month, the three doctors helped 228 women give birth in the hospital -- that is more than 7 births every day.
The lockdown and the shifting of mother and child hospital to Chengala have not affected the number of patients. In March, the General Hospital saw 250 births, just 22 more than April. "The number of patients is too high and the number of beds is few. We are forced to discharge mothers to admit pregnant women," said a doctor.
Better facility in GH
In General Hospital, at any given point of time, there would be 50 pregnant women or new mothers admitted to the labour ward. Last week, a woman from Kottur came around 9.30 pm, and the doctors sent her back as there was no space.
"But between 12.45 am and 3.30 am, three other pregnant women in labour pain came and we had to take them directly to the labour room," said a staff. But the labour room has only two beds for waiting and two birthing tables, and all were occupied.
"They said they were ready to sleep on the floor. But we made the women share the beds," she said. By 8.30 am, the woman from Kottur returned. "Half of the time we are busy finding persons to discharge," said a nurse. On Wednesday, Shajida* from Kasaragod gave birth around 9.45 pm. After two hours, she started bleeding. She had to be shifted to an ICU, but there is no ICU, said a staff. The doctors administered three units of blood -- two on Wednesday and one on Thursday.
"We hope the bleeding stops. We don't have the luxury of keeping a patient in the hospital for more than 24 hours," said a doctor. The government doctors are lucky because the cooperative hospital's in-house gynaecologist is on leave. "If she returns and starts admitting her patients, our patients will have to be on the floor," said a staff.
The doctors were also forced to assign the narrow caregiver's bed for new mothers and children. "It is risky. The mothers will be very tired but they cannot sleep peacefully because the child is lying next to them," said a doctor. The three government gynaecologists are working round the clock at the cooperative hospital because there is not duty medical officer or emergency medical officers. Health workers said more women were coming to government hospitals because of several reasons.
"There are routine patients for government hospitals. Some women said their husbands have lost jobs in the Gulf and are in room quarantine there. So, they don't have the money to go to private hospitals. Some women, who used to go to Mangaluru, said private doctors in Kasaragod were not taking new patients so they had to come to government hospitals," said a health worker.
Doctors and other health workers said the district administration should take a decision is restoring the gynaecology wing in General Hospital. Though there are no active COVID cases in the General Hospital now, the district administration is reserving the 100 beds when the influx from the Gulf begins soon.