Kalawati Saran Children Hospital, the oldest and only children’s hospital in Delhi located in the heart of the city, is suffering from a funds crunch and lack of modern infrastructure. The campus is far from meeting the standards of Swachh Bharat. “The hospital lacks medical resources to treat children. The important and life saving machines are not available, and cleanliness is nowhere to be seen,” said a resident doctor of the hospital, who did not wish to be named.
This children specialty hospital, which has only two functioning ambulances, is also deprived of the basic facilities like ECHO, MRI and digital X-ray needed in a hospital. On the other hand, it has only one portable X-ray and one traditional X-ray machines. Doctors say that in the absence of the machines, diagnosis is delayed and this delay often leads to complications. They further said that there is a lack of blood sampling bottles, and hence patients have to be told to get their tests done from outside.
The emergency room lacks the basic necessities. Amongst the several ventilators inside the emergency ward, only two are in working condition. Even the mandatory resuscitation kit, a kit used while reviving children from serious conditions, is not present. Doctors here use “ambu-bags and masks” method, under which they continuously pump oxygen by hand for at least six hours to revive the children brought under serious conditions. A doctor on duty said, “The ventilators here work on and off, and never together. We use the ambu-bags to revive the children. We are not even provided sterilised gloves and sanitisers.” “We do not even have adequate IVF (intra-veneous Fluids). We tell the parents to buy them from the outside,” said a nurse working in the hospital.
The hospital also has a lack of space. “Overcrowding is a normal practice here,” said the attendant of a patient. There is hardly enough space to walk in the wards. There is no hygiene and cleanliness in the wards. Bedsheets are not being changed and food is littered everywhere on the ground, the attendant added.
Doctors and patients also complain of lack of clean drinking water on campus. A parent of a child admitted in the hospital said, “My daughter is admitted for the last two days. They do not even have drinking water facilities here. There is no toilet here on the first floor, and the one downstairs is too far.”
“Although six units (departments) had been sanctioned for the hospital, it currently has only three. On an average we have at least 150 children at one time, but we don’t have the capacity to handle such a large crowd due to shortages of staff and resources. Due to a lack of adequate space between the beds, infection is communicated from one patient to the another. We even use stretchers as beds,” the doctor quoted above said. “Isolation facility for highly communicable diseases is not available. They are hence kept in the general ward and that is how infection spreads. Even many doctors working here got infected with TB. The nursery section is also not well equipped to weed out infections,” the doctor added.
The hospital authority refused to comment, saying they were not authorised to speak to the media and that they feared action by the Delhi Health Ministry. Sources close to the hospital authority said, “We have been gagged by the Delhi government for speaking to the media.”