DMCH was added to the approved list on April 8, but on May 10, it stopped receiving samples from outpatients
Just after a month of being listed as an approved facility for Covid-19 testing, Dhaka Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) has stopped receiving samples from outpatients for Covid-19 tests and only continued testing facilities for its inpatients and its staff.
DMCH was added to the approved list on April 8, but on May 10, it stopped receiving samples from outpatients as it became hard for them to manage the huge rush of Covid-19 test applicants with only one Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) machine from the beginning.
“We initially planned to test suspected patients who were already admitted. But many outpatients also came to us as they believed they were infected. We could not refuse them as this state-owned facility is here to serve the people,” DMCH Director Brig Gen AKM Nasir Uddin told Dhaka Tribune.
“But after opening (the second coronavirus unit) on May 2, we imposed a limitation on the number of tests to be conducted. Finally on May 10, we discontinued testing samples from outpatients, so that Covid-19 treatment inside the hospital and other regular health services can run smoothly,” he said.
“We are handling more than 500 serious patients in our coronavirus units. These moderate to severe cases came here after being rejected by the four major hospitals in the city,” the director said.
He also said the media had been making misleading headlines saying more patients had died in DMCH compared to other hospitals.
“News headlines say that a lot of patients had died in DMCH compared to than other hospitals. But, it is often misleading,” Brig Gen AKM Nasir Uddin said.
“You have to understand that why the death rate is higher here. The health professionals here are risking their lives by handling the most serious cases, patients having multiple complications and those who have been brought to the hospital dead,” he said.
“Several hundreds of doctors, nurses, Ansar members and hospital staffs are currently staying in 23 hotels of the city and it is mandatory to test their samples after three weeks (one week duty plus 14 days of quarantine) as they are treating positive patients so closely."
“We need to conduct their tests before returning home, otherwise their family members and neighbours could be at risk of getting infected,” Brig Gen Nasir added.
He furthered: “Moreover, we also have to test samples of our health professionals and staff from non Covid-19 zones as most of them have come to the hospital after being infected from outside. For example, 90% of the nurses here came into contact with the deadly virus from outside the units.”
“There are also issues in the collection of samples, preservation and testing of the bodies suspected virus cases. We are feeling the heat only with our internal cases right now. So, how can we afford to test outpatients?” DMCH director asked.
In such a situation, the director said they need at least two more RT-PCR machines to only conduct tests for inpatients and health professionals who are treating them, adding : “We have a lack of expertise and lab technicians as well.”
As many as 8,138 tests have been conducted at the facility till June 3, with a capacity of testing 188 tests per day.