Delta hospital overwhelmed by premature babies
by Phuoc Buu
CAN THO (VNS)— The increasing number of premature babies being born in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta is putting pressure on the Can Tho Pediatrics Hospital, which lacks the facilities and human resources needed for the purpose.
The hospital's neonatal intensive care unit is licensed to have 45 beds for one baby each, but has had to put up 65 beds with two and even three in each, most of them premature.
Beds were placed wherever possible in the ward.
"My unit works as a central hospital for the delta though it is actually a unit of the hospital meant for Can Tho only," Dr Ngo Thi Bach Van, the unit's head, said.
Forty per cent of the babies admitted are transferred from nearby provinces like Hau Giang, Kien Giang, Vinh Long, and Soc Trang, she said.
Since many of the delta provinces do not have neonatal intensive care units, they send patients here or babies are brought by parents because of its reputation, she explained.
"All babies are welcome, we do not care where are they from," she said, but admitted that the shortage of facilities is a critical problem.
Most premature babies suffer from heart and respiratory ailments or severe jaundice, and need to be assisted with breathing and treated for jaundice using a specified LED photo therapy machine.
"We only have seven CPAPs (Continuous Positive Air Pressure machine) but the need is much bigger. Parents have to queue up for treatment on the machine every morning."
The demand for LED photo therapy is also far short of availability.
Van did complain about a shortage of personnel, but a study made by Dr Nguyen Dinh Chien, medical supervisor at charity organisation East meets West, found one nurse in the unit taking care of 21 infants.
"Standard procedure is one nurse taking care of a maximum of three infants. But the overloading here is so severe that each nurse has to do the job of seven."
East meets West is assisting Can Tho in dealing with the overload by providing training in emergency techniques for two doctors and three nurses at neighbouring Hau Giang Polyclinic Hospital. It also secured a donation from EuroCham for the hospital to buy two CPAP and one LED photo therapy machines.
The five-day training course was held in August, and Van expects no more transfers from Hau Giang.
But she hopes for more donations from individuals and organisations since the city budget cannot meet demand.
"More premature babies can be saved and cared for," she said.
Van was unhappy with the education of teenagers in maternity healthcare by related agencies since the increase in the number of premature babies is mainly due to the increase in teenage maternity and birth rates. — VNS