Three new Covid dedicated hospitals not yet operational while two others can hardly accommodate additional patients
As the Covid-19 situation in the country continues to worsen, the newly designated Covid hospitals are not yet ready to deal with the recent surge of patients.
Three of the five hospitals selected by the health authorities in March are not prepared to take in Covid patients while two others – Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College and Hospital (ShSMC) and Government Employees Hospital in Fulbaria – are trying to increase their capacity to admit more patients.
Although the ShSMC will be able to increase its capacity, the Government Employees Hospital is already operating at near capacity, hospital sources said.
The three other hospitals are DNCC Corona Isolation Centre in Mohakhali, Lalkuthi Hospital in Mirpur and Dhaka Mahanagar Hospital in Babu Bazar.
During a recent visit to these hospitals, it was found that although the authorities were taking preparations, it will take days to treat coronavirus patients as they still need specialized covid beds, ICU facilities as well as doctors and nurses.
DNCC Corona Isolation Centre
Following the government decision, the hospital, being set up at the six-storied DNCC market, was undergoing construction work to turn it into a 1200-bed isolation centre.
Brig Gen Zobaidur Rahman, chief health officer of DNCC, hoped to launch the makeshift hospital after April 12.
“Initially, the top and first floor of the market will be turned into a Covid unit with 300 to 400 general beds with over 200 ICU beds. The other floors will be brought under the Covid treatment facility eventually,” he told Dhaka Tribune.
Brig Gen AKM Nasiruddin, director of DNCC Corona Isolation Centre, said the hospital had requested the Health Ministry to provide 300 doctors, 100 nurses and other sufficient manpower to run the centre properly.
During a recent visit, it was found that many workers and electricians were working on the first and fifth floors of the centre. It may take another month to complete the work.
Lalkuthi Hospital in Mirpur is also undergoing renovation. The hospital does not have adequate manpower and equipment to be run as a Covid dedicated one.
Lalkuthi Hospital Director Dr Shamsul Karim said as the hospital did not have the required manpower and logistics, it could not start treating Covid patients yet.
Last year, Lalkuthi Hospital provided treatment to Covid patients for eight months with health workers, including doctors and nurses provided by the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
“We have already sent a demand letter to the Health Ministry seeking 20 each of medical experts and officers as well as 80 nurses. We will start admitting Covid patients once we get enough manpower and other support for running the ICUs,” said the director.
Dhaka Mahanagar Hospital
A similar picture was found at Dhaka Mahanagar Hospital.
When businessman Akbar Hossain brought his ovid infected wife to the hospital, doctors told him that their ICU was not functioning. Later, he managed an ICU bed at a private hospital.
The hospital currently has 12 Covid beds with high flow nasal cannula and eight ICU beds while preparations are being taken to have a 100-bed Covid unit.
The hospital authorities were unable to treat any patients due to lack of expert doctors and nurses.
Dr Prokash Chandra Roy, director at Dhaka Mahanagar Hospital, said the hospital had not yet received the required manpower and equipment from the ministry to provide treatment.
Suhrawardy Medical College Hospital
Meanwhile, the authorities of ShSMC are already working to implement the government’s directive on increasing its capacity to provide treatment to the ever larger number of Covid-19 patients coming to it.
Dr Md Khalilur Rahman, director of ShSMC, said there were 100 Covid beds which were fully occupied.
He said the hospital authorities were asked to add 10 new ICU beds and 100 more beds in their Covid dedicated unit to meet the soaring number of Covid patients.
Government Employees Hospital
The hospital’s ICU unit was fully occupied while two/three general beds were vacant in the women's ward.
Seeking anonymity, a doctor at the hospital said that although 80% of the beds were allocated for government employees and 20% for general patients, general patients could not be admitted here unless there was an emergency case.
Due to manpower shortages, inadequate supplies and infrastructural support, the hospital was unable to provide medical care, said Deputy Secretary Didarul Alam, who works under the administrative section at the hospital.