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Newborn unit at RIMS opened but not functional

Newborn unit at RIMS 'open' yet closed
- Hospital director cites lack of patients while insiders blame dearth of nurses

Ranchi, Jan. 14: A special care neonatal unit, inaugurated with much fanfare last month by health minister Hemlal Murmu, is yet to start functioning as RIMS is facing an acute shortage of nurses, although the authorities of the state's premier hospital claim otherwise.

RIMS director insisted the real reason why the unit was closed was because there were no patients, though nurses admitted there were too few of them to manage all the departments of the busy hospital.

Set up by the state government in collaboration with Unicef, the neonatal unit is meant to provide care at birth, treat sick newborns, do follow-up on high-risk babies, provide referral services and train medical officers and nurses of districts in newborn care.

A visit to the unit today revealed it was locked while no one was around to provide information.

"So far, we have not found any patient who requires specialised treatment in the unit. The moment we receive such patients, the unit will be functional," claimed RIMS director Tulsi Mahto.

Asked why the unit was locked, he said it was for the security of medical equipment, worth lakhs. "If the unit is kept open, someone may manhandle the expensive tools," he added.

However, sources revealed that as many as 24 nurses were required to run the unit, where newborns suffering from serious ailments are to be admitted for intensive medical care. But the hospital did not have so many caring hands.

"At present, there are only 468 nurses at RIMS — 376 appointed on contract basis while 92 are permanent. Thirty per cent of nurses are not available as they are on leave. The remaining strength is deputed shift-wise at various wards — four intensive care units, operation theatres, trauma centre, and emergency wards besides cottages where VIPs are admitted. In such circumstances, it is difficult to spare 24 nurses exclusively for the Special Care Newborn Unit, where one attendant is required for one patient," a nurse revealed on condition of anonymity.

However, the head of the paediatrics department, A.K. Sharma, promised to start the unit soon, though he wouldn't give a deadline.

According to sources, arrangements were being made to rope in 20 nurses — 12 regular and eight senior nursing students — to start the department by Monday, January 17.

There are 16 beds in the unit. Available equipment include pulse oximeters, photo therapy machine and radiant warmer, besides monitors, weighing machine, oxygen concentrator and infusion pump.

Unicef has provided four doctors for providing Level II care which means all sorts of treatment for babies and children except mechanical ventilation and major surgical interventions. source-telegraphindia.com

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