Shortage of nurses, beds imperils babies at Vani Vilas

Shortage of nurses, beds imperils babies at Vani Vilas

More than one baby is made to share a single bed at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of the government-run Vani Vilas Hospital. Babies with congenital birth defects, asphyxia etc share NICUs.

Vani Vilas Hospital, an exclusive hospital for women and children, has only around 60 beds for preterm infants, while they handle at least 1,500 deliveries a month, besides 200 babies who are referred from other parts of Karnataka.

According to sources from the hospital, the NICU has a severe shortage of nurses. Dr Sahana Devdas, who is in charge of the NICU, said the 15 nurses provided under the National Health Mission (NHM) are not insufficient.

“Sometimes, there are only six nurses and sometimes eight, which is not enough. There needs to be one nurse for one baby in a ventilator, and one nurse for two babies, which is not the case in the hospital,” said Dr Sahana.

Nurses work in three shifts. Most of the time they are careless and are not properly trained, sources said.

“We can try and manage the babies delivered in the hospital, while it is difficult to manage those that are referred due to bed shortage,” Dr Sahana said.

“We are a tertiary centre. We cannot refuse patients,” said Dr Geetha Shivamurthy, medical superintendent of Vani Vilas Hospital. The hospital put forth a proposal for more doctors and nurses for their new building in February.

Dr Shalini Rajneesh,  principal secretary, Health & Family Welfare department, said the proposal for expanding the hospital has already been put forth under the NHM and an approval is expected anytime.

“For a hospital with 3,000 deliveries a year, we provide 12 beds with an additional four beds for babies referred from outside. We cannot give more beds to Vani Vilas, as an increased intake may affect the quality of service. Hence, we are trying to de-congest the hospital by upgrading neighbouring hospitals,” said Dr Rajani M, deputy director, child health, District Health and Family Welfare Society.

Dr Sahana said that due to the heavy intake of patients, the hospital needs a separate centre for neonatology.

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