Jammu, Sep 6: The Shri Maharaja Gulab Singh (SMGS) hospital, the oldest hospital in the Jammu and Kashmir, has attained the dubious distinction of having registered over 450 deaths of infants in past seven months notwithstanding the government efforts to streamline healthcare facilities.
Established in 1940, the hospital was christened after Maharaja Hari Singh's great-grandfather's Shri Maharaja Gulab Singh. If one goes through the record of last three years, the hospital has witnessed over 2500 deaths of infants, mostly in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
Sources said that on an average, two infants lose their lives during the birth every day, while over 50 delivery cases are handled daily by the doctors in the hospital. Main reason for high death rate, according to the officials, is shortage of doctors and paramedical staff.
"There were 746 deaths of children (634 NICU and 112 post-neonatal) in Pediatric department of the hospital in 2008-09. The number of patients was 15,171 which went up to 16, 897 in 2009-10. The death count also rose to 842, including 718 NICU and 124 post-neonatal," official sources said, adding that the hospital registered 885 deaths, including 760 NICU and 125 post- neonatal in 2010-11 till March. A total of 16456 patients were admitted in this hospital last year.
Sources claimed that over 450 deaths have been witnessed in first seven months and it is likely to cross 800-mark by the end of this year.
They, however, said that the number of pregnant women died during the last three years was 91. "Out of total admission of 23922, the hospital witnessed the death of 20 women in 2008-09, while 37 deaths of pregnant women were registered, out of total 24684 admitted patients in Obstetrics and Gynaecology department of the hospital in 2009-10. Last year, the hospital saw the death of 34 women and the number of admitted patients was 24806," they said.
"The oldest hospital of the state is fast losing its credibility among the people with the increasing risk to life of infant and mother during child birth. They are facing risk at every level", sources said, adding "Quality of healthcare in the hospital has been facing major challenge due to shortage of staff as 403 posts of para-medical staff had been lying vacant. Added to this is the shortage of doctors, which is major hindrance, coming in way of providing proper help to the pregnant women".
Sources said that there are only 142 para-medical staff members as against the sanction strength of 546. Similarly, the hospital has 111 class-IV employees as against the sanction strength of 333, while the number of Safai-karamcharis (sweepers) is 77, though their sanction strength is 109.
Not only the staff, sources said, the infrastructure is also falling shot to deal with the people and on a single bed around three to five infants are kept one time since hospital is facing lack of beds and space.
"Even in the labour room of the hospital, more than one woman is kept on a single bed posing great risk to the lives of the women and their infants," sources said.