Comatose after crib death

A day after an infant girl died at the neonatal intensive care unit of Dhanbad's premier state hospital, a fallout of the JSEB workers' power strike, power is back but authorities are missing in action.

When The Telegraph visited Patliputra Medical College Hospital (Seraidhela) paediatric ward at 2.45pm on Friday, none of the doctors ' department head U.S. Prasad, assistant professor B. Chaudhary, medical officers A.K. Singh and A.B. Sharan and senior resident Avinash Kumar ' were there.

"You can find all the doctors at 10am," said one of the three nurses on duty.

A layman probe of the neonatal unit revealed none of the sophisticated gadgets, including the incubator, was connected to the generator. The reason is that generators are connected to units deemed "high-priority" such as operating theatre, dialysis, intensive and critical care and blood bank.

PMCH hospital superintendent Arun Kumar, who was in Ranchi to attend a health and family welfare department meeting at the state secretariat, gave the low-down of all four generators over phone.

"The 63KVA generator is defunct since last several years and the state has provided no funds to repair it. But it is meant for the CT scan machine. The 20KVA generator provided by Dhanbad MLA Mannan Mallik has been donated for power supply in the hospital's blood bank," he said.

On smaller generators, he said: "The 10KVA generator helps out operating theatre, intensive and critical care units. The 5KVA generator is reserved for the dialysis unit. A power cut can prove fatal for patients undergoing dialysis as blood clots fast."

His take? "We have limited resources. After I return to Dhanbad, I will ensure continuous power supply to incubators and other machinery at the neonatal intensive care unit."

The six-day-old daughter of Wasseypur biscuit trader Iqbal Khan and homemaker Armana Khatoon may have paid for the power strike and absent generators with her life. But eight children admitted in the general ward of the paediatric section didn't fare too well in the blackout.

"My eight-year-old daughter Rinki got timely injections, but not drinking water," said Dharmendra Thakur of Digwadih.

Indian Medical Association (Jharkhand) president A.K. Singh blamed the state government. "The PMCH must get full autonomy on the line of RIMS, Ranchi, so that the superintendent and authorities don't need sanctions for small decisions such as buying diesel to run generators," he said. He added they would demand full autonomy for MGM (Jamshedpur) too.

But Mohammed Jafar, brother of grieving Armana Khatoon, put things in perspective. "Big men will say big things. But a baby in our family had to die to bring issues out in the open. If the parents had money to put their baby in a private hospital, she would have lived," he said.