The sorry state of Kota's JK Lon Hospital is reflected in a government-appointed panel's report which shows that around 105 children died in a span of over a month due to cold shivering in the hospital as it lacked everything a normal hospital should have.
The committee formed by the Rajasthan government to probe the lacunae in the hospital resulting in the deaths of kids has confirmed in its report that infants died due to hypothermia, a medical emergency that occurs when the body temperature falls below 95 F (35 C). The normal body temperature is 98.6 F (37 C).
Even as the kids in the hospital continued to die in the biting winter cold, the hospital did not have enough stocks of lifesaving equipment, said the report.
The newborns should have a body temperature of 36.5-degree Celcius; therefore they were kept on warmers where their temperature stays normal. However, as the hospital lacked functional warmers, their body temperature continued to plummet.
What made the matters worse
The report said that 22 nebulisers out of 28 were dysfunctional, 81 infusion pumps out of 111 were not working and the same was the story with para monitors and pulse oxymeters.
What made the matters worse was the absence of oxygen pipeline in the hospital due to which oxygen was supplied to kids with the help of cylinders.
Surprisingly, the ICU was not fumigated for months, the report said.
"The children continued to die in December as Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot celebrated the launch of 'Nirogi Rajasthan' campaign in the state," said former health minister Rajendra Rathore.
Hospital officials said most paediatricians of JK Lon Hospital have been posted at Kota's New Medical College. "The nursing employees, already under-staffed, prefer to stay idle while ward boys rule the roost in the JK Lon Hospital," said an official.
Also, the hospital staff continued with the whitewash inwards where infants suffering from pneumonia were admitted for oxygen.
According to sources, there was no record of 40 heaters purchased for kids. A hospital official said despite Rs 6-crore funds lying with the hospital, no purchase has been made.
On Friday, when state Health Minister Raghu Sharma visited the hospital, a green carpet welcome was given to him, a gesture hardly suited for the grim situation prevailing in the hospital. After drawing severe criticisms, the carpet was rolled back.
Infant suffers from pneumonia died
A five-month-old girl suffering from pneumonia died the same day when Sharma visited the hospital as the officials were busy getting the walls cleaned.
Former Health Minister Rajendra Rathore said the rampant transfer of specialists on political grounds has deprived the patients of availing the best medical services.
Rathore said that during BJP's rule, "we ensured that all specialists were kept at one place irrespective of any political leaning."
He said the present government has not had annual repair contracts of the equipment purchased under its tenure. "There is no medical inspection arrangement for the equipment purchased," Rathore said.
Gehlot in December celebrated one year of the formation of his government and launched the 'Nirogi Rajasthan' campaign. He also announced Janata Clinics and spoke about introducing Right to Health.
"How can Right to Health be launched when there is no homework done by the state government?" questioned Rathore.
"The Nirogi campaign is only on papers as there has been no discussion on it with panchayats or other stakeholders," Rathore said. "In a situation when 11,000 posts of doctors are lying vacant, how can the government talk about Janata clinics"? he asked.
State Health Minister Raghu Sharma, when contacted by IANS, was not available for comment.