Quality Care and Trust when Providing Maternal Healthcare
Baheirah is an Acumen Global Fellow working in Hyderabad, India at LifeSpring, a chain of hospitals that provides quality health care to lowerincome women and children in India. Below she discusses why quality care and trust are so important when providing maternal healthcare.
Latha, 28, sits quietly in LifeSpring’s waiting room, her fuchsia and gold Punjabi dress blends in beautifully with the clinic’s cheerful pink walls. I ask if she has any worries about her upcoming delivery, as her first delivery led to complications. She calmly answers, “I have no fear!” There is a sparkle in her eyes as she shares her thrill for her second baby. As she talks, all I can hear is her strength and confidence in her delivery choice and this makes me admire Latha profoundly.
Most local women do not have the privilege of choosing their delivery facility; the primary decision makers for the first and second delivery are the mother and mother-in-law, respectively. Latha’s first caesarean delivery was at LifeSpring. While the delivery was successful, she incurred a very rare wound infection after the operation caused by her weakened immune system. Often, such complications are mistakenly blamed on the skill of the “doctor’s hand.”
Latha’s face flushes in pain whenever she recalls the excruciating memory of changing the daily dressing on her infected wound. The infection was not only physically agonizing but it also affected her family and daily activities. Her husband, who supports the family working as a chauffeur, had to interrupt his work on a daily basis to take his wife for check-ups. Throughout Latha’s recovery, Dr. Radhika, a skilled doctor who has been with LifeSpring for five years, closely monitored Latha’s infection, prioritized her visits, and ensured that all of her follow up check-ups were free of charge. Dr. Radhika was fully committed to Latha’s recovery, a process that took nearly three months.
Now, Latha is five months pregnant and she has decided to come back to LifeSpring for her prenatal care visits; in spite of the customs that would prevent her from trusting the same “doctor’s hand.” Latha says that she considered going to a cheaper private hospital close to her mother-in-law, but ultimately the quality of care and service she received made her choose LifeSpring, and specifically Dr. Radhika, for the delivery of her second child.
Latha’s story highlights how providing quality service and forming trusting relationships empowers low-income women to overcome their fear and cultural pressure. This is especially important when alternate facilities do not meet their basic needs. Latha is expected to deliver in four months and I am thrilled that I will be here for her second delivery!