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Terrified mothers keep a wary eye on their babies

November 28, 2012

RAWALPINDI, Nov 27: After the incident in which a rat attacked a baby, the environment at the Holy Family Hospital’s gynecology ward remained tense on Tuesday with terrified mothers visiting the nursery throughout the day to check on their newborns. Raheela Bibi, whose baby was bitten by a rat in the labour room, visited the nursery six times in an hour, just to see whether her baby was safe or not.

She was allowed to feed her baby an hour after the incident but she remained perturbed, visiting the nursery after short intervals. “Is there any rat in the room,” a question she kept asking the nursery staff, again and again.

The incident sent fear and panic throughout the hospital and mothers of newborns were seen anxious about the wellbeing of their children.

“I have delivered a baby girl and doctors kept her in the nursery. I am worried about her safety,” confided Rukhsana Hameed, mother of a newborn child.

For Rukhsana it’s not just about rats, she is also worried about cats.

“While going to the nursery, I even saw a cat roaming and meowing in the corridor — it means only one thing,” she said striking a worried look, “there are still rats in the hospital!”

Tauheed Ahmed, husband of a woman who had just delivered a baby, said that his wife wanted to drag him into the labour room to protect the would-be-born baby but the hospital staff did not allow it.

Mohammad Sagheer, a Rawalpindi resident, said that his sister-in-law’s blood pressure shot up after she heard the rat-biting story. Doctors said that high-blood pressure was dangerous for a mother who had just given birth.

Now that the whole Tom and Jerry — rats and cats in the hospital — story has been confirmed, Mohammad Khan a staff member at the hospital confessed: “Cats and rats spoil the food items lying on the side tables of the patients’ bed. The cats are roaming freely on the premises.”

Khan also said that doctors and nurses were informed about the situation but failed to do anything. He quoted them as saying “We can catch cats but it is difficult to catch rats”.

The duty nurses told Dawn that they were facing a difficult situation after the incident. “The administration issued strict orders not to leave the newborn babies unattended,” the nurses said.

However, Nasir Shah, security official at the gynae ward, told Dawn that the administration had deployed teams to hunt the rats in the morning.

Additional Medical Superintendent (AMS) Administration Dr Tariq Niazi admitted that there had been a lapse on the part of the administration.

He said: “Due to a hectic night shift, there was negligence on part of the staff.”

Mr Niazi said that the administration was taking the matter seriously and would soon clean the hospital from all kinds of animals and insects. He said that the maid and nurse, who were on duty, were suspended and further action would be taken after the completion of the inquiry being carried out by the committee constituted by Punjab health secretary.

When contacted, Rawalpindi Medical College (RMC) Principal Prof Dr Mussadiq Khan said that the incident was horrible and it should not have occurred. “Yes, there have been some flaws and weaknesses in our administration but we will improve them soon,” he said.