By Dr. K. Javeed Nayeem, MD
On Friday I read with much interest and happiness the interview that SOM had published with Dr. H. M. Virupaksha, the about-to-retire Medical Superintendent of the PKTB Hospital in our city, who was once a student there! My happiness came from knowing that this hospital with its own very interesting history of how and why it came into existence and which is celebrating its centenary this year, has seen much development and progress over the recent years. In an era when everything Government-made comes in for much criticism and adverse comments, it is always very heartening to hear of Government institutions that can proudly talk of their good performance, very often with limited resources.
Last week there was another write-up in SOM about the expansion and complete makeover of the SMT Hospital (Seth Mohandas Tulsidas Hospital) in our city which has now been converted into an exclusive maternity hospital where Covid-positive pregnant ladies can go for safe deliveries and post-natal care, under adequately qualified and competent doctors. This hospital which had been greatly expanded very recently was lying idle for some very unclear reason until Abhiram G. Sankar, the then Deputy Commissioner, who was very much aware of the need of a low-cost Covid Care Hospital in our city to cater to the needs of poor patients, urged the Government agencies to convert it into one.
The MUDA, under the leadership of its Chairman, H.V. Rajeev and its Commissioner Dr. D.B. Natesh got the cart moving. With the Cauvery Heart and Multi-Speciality Hospital stepping in with the much- needed technical and logistic assistance, this Covid Mitra Hospital with fifty beds saw the light of the day and continued to serve the poor till it was wound up recently following a fall in Covid cases.
I must mention here that Abhiram Sankar, whom I have known closely as an officer and a gentleman, had a very unusual kind of humility and willingness to accept, study and act upon every suggestion big or small, coming from everyone big or small! It was this rare combination that came to his help in effectively and commendably controlling the first wave of Covid in our district when it was still a very unknown enemy.
The establishment of an exclusive Covid Care Maternity Hospital in Mysuru was very essential because in the scenario of utter chaos created by the Covid pandemic, pregnant ladies who were Covid positive used to run the grave peril of not being able to get admitted to other maternity hospitals because of the risk of them transmitting their infection to the other patients there. Because of this difficulty, ever since the pandemic began, many ladies, especially from our rural areas, preferred to deliver at home under some very difficult circumstances that threatened to increase both maternal and neo-natal morbidity and mortality. Although some exclusive arrangements had been made to handle Covid positive patients at the Cheluvamba Hospital, they were simply not adequate to handle the influx.
I call this giant and imposing edifice and much sought-after destination of our poor, the ‘baby factory’ of our city because with its nearly 450 beds, this establishment conducts about 30 to 35 normal deliveries and about 15 to 20 caesarian sections each day! The few other much smaller Government Maternity Hospitals like the Lakshmidevamma Shankarashetty Hospital in Jayalakshmipuram, because of their very poor infrastructure, could do very little to help covid-positive pregnant ladies.
So, when I learnt about the resurrection of the SMT Hospital, knowing that he was very much involved in its upgradation and functioning, I decided to have a talk with my friend Dr. H. G. Manjunath, the present Professor and Head of the Department of Anaesthesiology at the Mysore Medical College and Research Institute, which was once my Alma Mater too! He told me that thankfully, all the people who were responsible for controlling the pandemic quickly understood that there was a need to have a self-sufficient Covid Maternity Hospital to avoid the perils and hassles of shifting helpless, poor patients in labour to well-equipped hospitals from the many ill-equipped peripheral ones.
Our District in-charge Minister S.T. Somashekar and our MUDA Chairman H.V. Rajeev swung into action and in just two days got the ball rolling. They rounded up a team of doctors comprising Dr. H.G. Manjunath, Dr. Sudha Rangappa, the Superintendent of Cheluvamba Hospital, Dr. Sudha, the Head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Cheluvamba Hospital, Dr. Rajendra, the RMO there, Dr. Nayaz Pasha, the RMO of the Government Covid Care Hospital, Dr. Chandrakala and Dr. Somashekar of the Health and Family Welfare Department, and our MUDA Commissioner, Dr. Natesh and a team of about ten engineers from MUDA.
With funds from the MUDA itself and the help of some philanthropic members of the public who came out with handsome contributions, an expanded hospital that was just an empty building, which had not seen an inauguration for many months, was transformed into a full-fledged and fully-equipped and fully- functional Covid Maternity Hospital in just three days! Now this hospital has fifty oxygenated beds, five ICUs with ventilators, five neo-natal ICUs, three labour rooms and one fully-equipped, modular operation theatre with the best life support equipment.
Plans are already afoot to augment it to include fifty Covid-care beds for children which seems to be a pressing need now. This achievement indeed qualifies to be called magic because we seldom see Government machinery performing so well. To me, this story of how a small and almost unknown Government Hospital metamorphosed into an exclusive and fully-equipped Covid Maternity Hospital came across as a very noteworthy case that proves the truth in the age-old proverb ‘Where there is a will, there is a way!’
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