Overcapacity fears at Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) in Male’ have been temporarily resolved today despite ongoing concerns about its ability to cope with the demand for medical care in the capital, a hospital official has said.
Local media reported yesterday that IGMH staff were trying “desperately” to accommodate patients after every bed within the hospital become occupied after a surge in demand for care.
An IGMH official told Minivan News today that while overcapacity fears had been temporarily resolved – with operations at the hospital having returned to normal – uncertainty remains over whether the same problems could again occur tonight.
The official alleged that the “source” of the overcrowding problem was due to a lack of proper medical services provided on the islands surrounding Male’, which had resulted in more patients coming to the capitol for surgery.
“While it is usually busier during the holiday period, the real problem is that the quality of hospitals and other medical services on these islands is not up to standard. Therefore islanders have no choice but to come to Male’ for treatment,” the source claimed.
“As transportation links between islands and Male’ have increased in recent years, it now means that more people can get here.”
According to the IGMH official, the hospital presently has a maximum capacity of 280 to 300 patients, while its catchment area has a population of 125,000 people.
In order to cope with the recent influx of patients this week, the hospital official claimed that the site had temporarily ceased operating on electives [non-urgent medical cases] in order to focus on those coming in needing urgent surgery.
“Normally we have around five patients waiting for admission in ER, however last night we had 18. We have tried to streamline the whole process by putting non-urgent surgery on wait so we could directly focus on urgent medical conditions,” the source said.
To future alleviate the number of patients coming into IGMH, the hospital source said today that an 11-floor building was to be constructed focussing on “mother and baby” related medical issues.
“About one third of our patients, on most occasions, are to do with paediatrics and gynaecology, so this new building will give us a lot more relief at IGMH,” the spokesperson said.
“The Finance Ministry, President’s Office and the Health Ministry are trying to get the loan [for the construction of the building], and when that comes through it is expected that the construction will take around five months,” the hospital official said.
Minister of Health Dr Ahmed Jamsheed Mohamed was not responding to calls from Minivan News at time of press.
Earlier this month concerns were raised about treatment received at IGMH by relatives of a mother who had given birth to a five-month-old foetus that was alleged to have been incorrectly diagnosed as deceased by hospital staff.
While the hospital maintained it had correctly pronounced the foetus as deceased before sending it to a cemetery in Male’ for burial, relatives expressed concerns about how the hospital had dealt with the matter.
The Ministry of Health told Minivan News at the time that a review would be undertaken of policies at state-run hospitals in the Maldives and their handling of such situations.
This week IGMH was required to commence a separate investigation into the case of a woman who had her uterus removed due to damage caused during the delivery of her baby, local media reported. The child had been stillborn, according to reports.
A family member told Sun Online that the 24 year-old woman was admitted to IGMH last Friday where, despite advice from specialists at another institution who advised for a caesarean, she was asked to wait to see if she gave birth naturally – despite the umbilical cord being wrapped around the baby’s neck.
Twelve hours later, the family were told the baby had died in the womb.
COO of IGMH Dr Ismail Shafeeu told Sun Online at the time that a case related to a woman whose baby died during delivery was currently under investigation.
“Something like that has happened, we are looking into it. There are plenty of problems related to IGMH, some of which involve negligence by the staff. They’re all under investigation,” he said.