How lockdown spun medical nightmares for expectant mothers

With medical staff engaged in the fight against coronavirus, many pregnant women were either refused treatment or admission to hospitals | Image - Eunice Dhivya

Sometime in May, Promilla Devi, who was 32 weeks pregnant, visited a healthcare centre in Jharkhand’s Bokaro district with complaints of heavy bleeding. Suspecting it to be a case of placenta previa — low lying placenta — the healthcare centre run by Jan Chetna Manch sent her to the Sadar Hospital in Bokaro since it has an ultrasound machine, 24x7 availability of doctors as well as necessary equipment and expertise to carry out C-sections.

But when she reached Sadar hospital, the staff refused to admit her until her family managed to convince one of the doctors to operate on her. The doctor then sent her to a private clinic for a scan. It was 6 pm by then and the report confirmed that she had placenta previa.

To the family’s shock, when they went back to Sadar hospital, the doctor refused to attend to her and instead sent her to neighbouring Dhanbad. By then it was late evening, and the family was scared that the woman would not be able to make another two hours of journey. They admitted her to a private nursing home nearby. The doctors there managed to stop her bleeding and sent her home two days later.

“After returning home, she started to bleed again and went back to the same nursing home. By then the foetus had died. A C-section was done that cost almost ₹30,000. Promilla lost her baby and had to pay a heavy cost for all the medical procedures,” says Lindsay Barnes, coordinator of Jan Chetna Manch.

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