Kasturba Gandhi Hospital may be one of the biggest maternity hospitals in Delhi, but it doesn’t have a round-the-clock ultrasound facility, putting lives of hundreds of pregnant women in danger every month. The solution devised by North Delhi Municipal Corporation is no better. After the issue was highlighted by area councilor Sulatana Abad Khan in the House meeting on Monday, the additional commissioner (health) replied that a functional machine was there but no technician to run the facility. “We have put in place an on-call duty system. During an emergency, we call a technician who can come to the hospital and operate the machine,” the additional commissioner said. A stunned Khan said the idea of calling and waiting for a technician was beyond belief. “When a woman is in labor, will she be waiting for the technician to come from another part of the city? The hospital doesn’t even have an ECG machine or even a functional water purifier. All these women are referred to other hospitals,” Khan said.
The ultrasound facility, she added, is available only from 10 am to 2 pm and patients generally get an appointment after waiting for 15 days to one month. “The problem is there for the past two years and I had raised it in an earlier meeting two months ago but nothing has been done.” North corporation mayor Adesh Gupta said, “I have ordered officials that the matter should be taken up on priority basis and arrangements should be made immediately for the round-the-clock ultrasound service.” The 113-year-old hospital, the corporation’s main center for deliveries and gynae-related issues, primarily caters to old Delhi. The 450-bed hospital oversees over 16,000 deliveries every year. A doctors at the hospital confirmed the problem. “Since we receive such a large number of maternity patients, some complicated cases are bound to arrive. Unable to do anything, we usually refer them to other hospitals,” the doctor said. There is also staff crunch. “Because of the shortage of gynae specialists, almost 15-20 Cesarean operations are carried out by our small team. Ideally, 20 percent of the cases should be cesarean; but since there are not enough people for assessment, the rate has reached 80 percent,” a senior doctor said, adding they have to carry on despite shortage of helpers and technicians. – TOI