The rising infant mortality rate at the Civil Hospital, Nashik, gave sleepless nights to Dr Pankaj Gajare, head of paediatric department of the hospital. Covid virus was yet to take a monstrous surge in the beginning of 2020, but the average infant mortality rose to around 25 per cent at the hospital. Soon, he found out that mothers with their newborns wasted precious few days before reaching the hospital, a major provider of healthcare in this district which has a large number of Adivasi hamlets lacking in basic medical services in their neigbourhoods. “Mothers with their infants were forced to reach this hospital as there is no hospital or health centre with good medical facilities to take care of them in the remote and far-flung padas (hamlets),” said Vinayak Deodhar, a member of RC Nasik, RID 3030.
Time running out
Despite Dr Gajare and his team striving hard to save the newborns, lack of modern equipment and facilities at the neonatal ward had made their valiant attempts a ‘losing fight’. Also, the mounting cases of attending to newborns, rising to over 350 admissions a month was the last thing they wanted to take on, apart from coping with the existing challenges, said Deodhar.
At this time, a RC Nasik president Mugdha Lele, visiting the hospital for a different reason, had a chance meeting with a staff of the neonatal department who briefed her about the crisis facing them with rising deaths of newborns. “The CSR team of the club swung into action and roped in a couple of corporates with the idea of funding the necessary equipment for the paediatric ward.” But then Covid struck with ferocity and for some months, the club had to take up only pandemic-relief work.
However, the CSR team was determined to find a corporate sponsor and got the final nod from Autocomp for funding equipment worth ₹12 lakh. “After consulting the hospital, the club decided to donate four bubble CPAPs (a non-invasive ventilator for newborns with respiratory problems) and a portable x-ray machine,” recalled Deodhar. The project team convinced the manufacturers to give annual maintenance for five years to the equipment and the orders were placed in January this year.
With the cooperation of the hospital staff, all the machines at the paediatric department were commissioned within few weeks of placing the purchase orders. DG Shabbir Shakir and Autocomp executive director Anil Ramdas Sali inaugurated the new neonatal machines in February. In the last three months or so, till May, the refurbished paediatric wing of the hospital brought joy to over 35 parents as their infants were saved with timely intervention by
Dr Gajare and his team, thanks to the new equipment. The mobile x-ray unit was used more than 200 occasions during this period.
“Our project has not only brought down the infant mortality rate at the Civil Hospital, but was able to bring smiles on the faces of underprivileged people from Adivasi hamlets,” added Deodhar.