Srinagar: At a time when the Health and Medical Education Department declared several healthcare facilities as dedicated COVID-19 hospitals, health experts Wednesday said that the decision on having adequate government staff at maternity hospitals would ease out the management of expecting women.
“The decision was taken to provide adequate services to the pregnant women across Kashmir region,” Director Health Services Kashmir, Dr Mushtaq Ahmad Rather told Greater Kashmir.
He said that the government took an initiative to provide hassle-free services to COVID patients, especially to pregnant women across the region witnessing harsh weather conditions.
According to the government order, SKIMS Medical College and Hospital, Bemina, and Sub District Hospital (SDH) Sopore have been declared as COVID-19 hospitals.
The order says that SKIMS Medical College and Hospital would function as a dedicated COVID hospital for the treatment of maternity, childcare, and orthopedic COVID patients.
“All the cases should be treated and operated in the respective health institutions while strictly following COVID-19 treatment protocol as referring of COVID patients in non-COVID hospitals may pose a high risk of virus transmission,” the order said.
“The government has been promising maternal wellbeing to pregnant women provided they turn up at public hospitals during labour and has been providing a cash incentive to those that have institutional birth. However, COVID was posing a great challenge to provide the services. We are doing our bit to provide the services to utmost accuracy,” Dr Rather said.
The Director was instructed to accelerate vaccination coverage, especially among the priority populations targeted for COVID vaccination.
He stressed that enhancing surveillance and field-level investigations, use of facial masks, physical distancing, and hand hygiene remain key to reducing transmission of COVID-19 and even Omicron.
Commenting on the challenges, doctors at Kashmir’s lone maternity tertiary care Lal Ded Hospital said that the management of pregnant women amid the COVID pandemic had been a challenge.
The COVID posed threat equally to the patients, newborn babies, and healthcare workers.
“The COVID pandemic has posed a challenge to the delivery of maternal healthcare across the world and we were not immune to it,” Dr Ifrah Aslam, Registrar, Department of Obstetrics and Gynae, Lal Ded Hospital, Srinagar, told Greater Kashmir.
“At LD Hospital, we have been dealing with both COVID and non-COVID patients. In the past two weeks, there wasn’t clarity about the admission of COVID patients. Now with the announcement of COVID-dedicated hospitals, doctors and other healthcare staff have heaved a sigh of relief,” she said. “Doctors and paramedics had to undergo a lot of mental trauma while managing COVID pregnant women. With nearly half of our staff battling the COVID, we have done our best so far.”
Dr Ifrah said that they expect people would also cooperate with healthcare workers during these testing times and not rush to the hospitals except in emergencies.
She said that the hospital administration was also allowing only a restricted number of attendants with a patient while educating them to follow COVID Appropriate Behaviour.
Directorate of Health Services Kashmir (DHSK) spokesman Dr Mir Mushtaq told Greater Kashmir that despite the number of healthcare workers falling sick, the hospital administration managed the critical pregnancies, which was commendable.
“In case of need, staff from non-critical specialties are being trained on the job and redeployed for the care of admitted COVID-19 patients,” he said.