Brand new neonatal care unit has a leaking roof

Aug 09, 2013, 02:07 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon

The new section built with public money at a cost of Rs 68 lakh, developed a leak in the ceiling, even before it was inaugurated; 12 new incubators and two phototherapy machines meant for newborns have been lying unused for last two months.

Jawhar’s Cottage Hospital, which is the city’s biggest medical institute, has a spanking new section with incubators and other equipment lying unused since June. The new section, built with public money, at a cost of Rs 68 lakh, developed a leak in the ceiling, even before it was inaugurated.

Water started seeping into the Special Neonatal Care Unit (SNCU) and nearly 12 new incubators and two phototherapy machines meant for newborns -- received under the National Rural Health Mission programme from the state public health department -- are lying unused for last two months.

Gathering dust: The leaking ceiling at the brand new Special Neonatal Care Unit in Cottage Hospital, Jawhar, which has prevented the section from operating for the past two months; nearly 12 new incubators and two phototherapy machines meant for newborns received under the National Rural Health Mission programme are lying unused. Pics/Atul Kamble

What’s more the hospital does not have a single ventilator for emergencies; it also lacks a radiologist to operate the sonography machine for last one-and-half years.

The Public Works Department (PWD), Jawhar has already received sanction for another Rs 11 crore for epairs and construction of the same hospital. The contractor will be finalised before the month-end and work would start by September 2013.

Raju Shivade, vice president, Shiv Sena Thane (rural), said, “The Public Works Department (PWD) issued a work order for Rs 68 lakh for construction, electrical fittings and furniture and fixtures for the SNCU. The work was completed by June 2013 and the contractor’s bill was cleared entirely. But the rains have only exposed the shoddy work done by the contractor, because of which the SNCU is non-functional.” Shivade is furious with the PWD officials: “They should have held the contractor responsible and withheld his payments. An inquiry should be conducted by CAG to unearth the level of corruption.”

Surprisingly, Cottage hospital in Jawhar is the first referral hospital which gets tribal patients from 12 primary health centres, two rural hospitals and four talukas hospitals located in Jawhar, Mokahda, Vikramgad and Shahpur talukas.

Mokhada and Jawhar talukas witnessed the death of 15 malnourished children between June and July 2013, of quite a few were newborns that had low birth weight and require specialised care, including ventilator support. A doctor said on condition of anonymity, “We have four other incubators of which one is non functional.

And serious cases have to be referred to either Nasik Civil hospital or Thane Civil hospital. The distance from Cottage Hospital to Nasik Civil Hospital and Thane Civil Hospital is 80 km and 110 km respectively, and serious patients may not survive the distance. Pregnant women choose not to travel so far for their sonography, and come when they are in labour.” 

Minister takes action
On Wednesday, State Minister for Tribal Welfare and Development Rajendra Gavit held a meeting with senior bureaucrats, doctors and officials from Mokhada and Jawhar at Mantaralaya and discussed the issues at length. Sources revealed that they came up with several measures to tackle the matter and would issue cheques of Rs 4,000 to the families of children who fall in severely and moderately malnourished category. Speaking to MiD DAY, he said, “It is unfortunate that the equipment is lying unused, only because of shoddy construction work. I will request the concerned agency to carry out an inquiry into the same.”

Damning figures
110 to 120
No of babies born in the hospital in a month

2.5 kg
Ideal weight of infant at birth, according to WHO 

No of babies in Cottage Hospital that are below ideal weight 

30 to 40
No of babies falling under the low-birth-weight (LBW) category, weighing less than 1.8 kg

Infants below 1 kg in weight at birth (requiring incubator and even ventilator support)

Monthly infant mortality rate

Dr Ramdas Marad, Superintendent, Cottage Hospital
The SNCU is non-functional till the leakage is stopped. We have written to the PWD asking them to sort out the matter. Also, we have conducted interviews twice to hire qualified paediatricians and nurses, but the response is very poor. Additional incubators and beds will definitely help us to handle more cases.

Indavi Tulpule, Social activist
Unless the expenditure is shown under the head of repair and maintenance, new funds will not be allocated. In the rural areas, the same structure is repaired again and again, and money gets pocketed at all levels. Across the Thane district, only two sonography centres are functional once in a week, of which one is at Shahpur and the other at Thane Civil Hospital; machines are lying unused for years.

D D Patil, Junior engineer with the Public Works Department
A sum of Rs 68 lakh was paid to the contractor. I am aware of the leakage and the contractor would repair the same in the next few days. We have just received a sanction of Rs 11 crore from Chief Engineer (Works) Aurangabad for construction and repair works of Cottage hospital, Jawhar.

Harshad Meghpuria, The contractor who built the SNCU
I had completed the work as per the instructions of PWD engineers. Since June 3, rains had created havoc in Jawhar, due to which no work could have been started. We could not plaster one portion of the SNCU wall, close to the Operation Theatre. I have told the officials that I will do the needful soon.

Dr Sanjeev Kamble, Deputy director (public health), Thane
We want to start the SNCU soon at Cottage Hospital, but it cannot be operated during leakage. I have told the officials at the hospital to make use of the incubators for emergencies. There is hardly any response to our advertisements, even for contractual radiologists, who we pay Rs 40,000 per month. One of our three radiologists from Thane Civil hospital visit Sahapur once in a week on rotation. 

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