Crib deaths: TN Govt ramps up neonatal ICU infrastructure

Facing flak for the death of 13 babies, authorities have strengthened the infrastructure at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of the Government Medical College Hospital here.

Dharmapuri: Facing flak for the death of 13 babies, authorities have strengthened the infrastructure at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of the Government Medical College Hospital here.

"Now, there are 30 more beds, seven new ventilators, 30 more hyperthermia or warmer systems and several fog-sterilisers in the NICU," Hospital Dean Dr Narayana Babu told PTI.

With the augmentation, the total number of beds had gone upto 65 and ventilators 20. Similarly, NICU had 35 warmers and now 30 more have arrived, he said.

The hospital has been in the eye of a storm ever since five babies died on a single day on November 14. Another six died in the subsequent days while two other infants shifted from here to Salem passed away there, taking the toll to 13.

The crib deaths sent shock waves and triggered demands by opposition for a probe into the circumstances, but authorities maintained there was no medical negligence.

The deaths were owing to the extreme non-viability nature of factors, including pre-existing low birth weight and respiratory distress, they said.

In this backdrop, the government has strengthened the infrastructure.

The government has already sanctioned four more doctors for NICU and experts, including Director of Medical Education, Dr Geetha Lakhsmi, continue to monitor the services provided.

Dr Babu said there were presently five 'Level III' babies requiring intensive care, needing both ventilator and incubator support.

There are 15 Level II babies that only need warmth from incubators. In Level I where babies are fed by mothers, there are 50.

"The condition of all the babies are showing good progress. They are improving," he said.

Chief Minister O Panneerselvam had defended the doctors and healthcare facilities at Medical College hospital and asserted that the deaths were due to "natural" causes like very young age of mothers, short interval between pregnancies and low birth weight and not on account of medical negligence.  

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