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September 17, 2012

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VIP wards give way to more beds in baby boom

THE city's major maternity hospitals are reducing their VIP beds and renovating offices into wards to make space for ordinary beds for more pregnant women, whose numbers are soaring with a baby boom among local residents and, increasingly, people from other provinces.

Major maternity hospitals currently are able to admit pregnant women without restrictions after adding new beds.

Previously, big hospitals had to set daily limits for newly registered pregnant women. But it led to many complaints, as many mothers-to-be and their families pressed to obtain services from prenatal checks to deliveries at big maternity hospitals.

To ease the bed shortage, the Shanghai Health Bureau requested in July that each of the three city-level maternity hospitals add 100 beds within three months. Two new maternity hospitals will also be opened next year.

Hu Xiuquan, vice president of Shanghai International Maternity and Child Health Hospital, one of the top three maternity hospitals, said it has added 50 new beds this month and will add all 100 new beds before year's end. The hospital had 160 beds previously.

He said the biggest challenge in adding more beds is the need for more space and medical professionals.

"Every square meter is used for medical purposes and we are recruiting more staff," he said. "We have improved the reservation procedure and improved efficiency. Ensuring the quality of medical services and protecting patients' safety and health with the larger workload are extremely challenging."

An official at Shanghai No.1 Maternity and Child Health Hospital, another top maternity hospital, said it has done away with all VIP beds in its branch in Pudong for space for new beds.

"The hospital is extremely busy with the increase in beds and patients," said the official, who said having too many patients could impact services.

Health officials and maternity hospitals advised pregnant women to have their prenatal exams and to deliver their baby at district-level maternity hospitals or general hospitals close to home, instead of going all the way to a crowded, city-level maternity hospital.

The city has 81 hospitals that offer maternity services and their combined beds are enough to meet local demand if all pregnant women use nearby hospitals, according to Wang Panshi, deputy director of the Shanghai Health Bureau.

He said the city has a patient transfer system and pregnant women with high-risk complications will be sent to advanced hospitals, ensuring everyone has access to the best medical resources in case of an emergency.


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