Karnataka: Health minister on back foot after visuals show four pregnant women on one stretcher at government hospital

Arkadev Ghoshal
Four women on a stretcher in Karnataka

Karnataka Health and Family Welfare Minister KR Ramesh Kumar was on the back foot on Thursday after visuals emerged from the Karnataka Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS) in the Hubballi — formerly Hubli — district showing four pregnant women being ferried on a single stretcher. 

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The visuals from KIMS — shot on the phone by a visitor and subsequently circulated around the state — showed the hospital in poor light, besides calling into question the facilities available at possibly the largest government hospital in the district. 

As the visuals went viral, pressure increased on the administration as well as the government to answer. Dr Shivappa Anur Shetty, the superintendent of KIMS Hubbali, said: "We are aware of this. The staff are doing this to save time. About 30-35 pregnant women are admitted to the hospital daily, and shifting each of them individually on a wheelchair is time-consuming. We will ensure that this is not repeated." 

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However, he also managed to deflect some blame on the hospital staff, saying: "There's no shortage of stretchers. It is only the inability of the hospital staff to manage them accordingly."

KR Ramesh Kumar, meanwhile, told reporters when asked about this: "It is a very painful incident. We will address the issue immediately." 

According to sources, a blue-collar staffer at KIMS Hubbali has been suspended for the incident, but no action has been taken on anyone else at the hospital. 

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