Despite being equipped with ample number of warmers and a fine staff of doctors, nurses and postgraduate trainee doctors, newborns lay waiting on the floor with their mothers for medical attention for several hours in the neonatal intensive care unit at the Kilpauk Medical College Hospital. The hospital, being a government teaching hospital, is not equipped enough to support all patients.

According to R. Narayanbabu, Head of the Paediatric Department at the KMH, a newborn has to be placed in an elevated position for fear of infections. In the neonatal intensive care unit of the KMH, infants can be found resting on the floor of a room with six to seven warmers, not in a usable condition, lined alongside the walls. Though a couple of nurses passed by a few times, no one stopped to discourage the mothers from sleeping on the floor or ask them to use the warmers.

Due to lack of prompt care that an infant requires, the mothers wait for hours to get medical attention. Dr. Narayanababu, however, said, “The babies can't wait. Our policy is that doctors and nurses treat the baby within five minutes.”

He also said a waiting area for mothers available outside the ICU was mostly occupied by men sleeping on the space meant for mothers and their newborns. There is no one to monitor the situation and ensuring a clean environment as the infants are at a high risk of contracting infections.

Though the paediatric ward is being run by a total of four doctors, 17 nurses and several assistant professors and trainee doctors, the services made available to the mothers and their newborns need to be upgraded as well. Among other shortcomings in the paediatric ward, baby couches, though available, are not made accessible to the infants.

According to S. Srinivasan, State nodal officer for neonatal facility, the KMCH has been allotted Rs. 25 lakh for upgrading its neonatal facility, including civil remodelling work. While around Rs. 13 lakh would be used to improve infrastructure, the rest would go toward manpower expenses.

The entire project is expected to be completed in another six to eight months, after which the neonatal care facility would be on a par private hospitals, he said.

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