All their doctors, nurses, medical staff, and administrative officials use fresh PPE everyday
About 1300 doctors, nurses, and other medical staff at various health facilities have been infected with coronavirus across the country so far. But none of them is from Sajida Foundation’s hospital dedicated to Covid-19 treatment in Narayanganj, one of the hotspots for the deadly disease.
A non profit organization, Sajida Foundation established the hospital in March and began treatment of Covid-19 patients from the first week of April.
The hospital authorities said they are taking care of their staff with the utmost sincerity and that is the reason they have not been infected with the virus yet.
They said each of their doctors, nurses, medical staff, and administrative officials use fresh personal protective equipment (PPE) each day, and they are spending a lot of money to buy PPE for this purpose.
In addition, the foundation is treating all patients free of cost and without any financial support from the government. Equipped with modern and needed equipment, the 50 bed hospital is rendering services to Covid-19 victims.
So far, 250 critically ill patients have been treated by the hospital from its own funds and some corporate aid.
The hospital has four beds in its intensive care unit (ICU), while two more beds are designated for dialysis. They have set up a central oxygen supply system which is not available in many Covid-19 dedicated government hospitals. They have also provided proper patient monitoring with pulse oximeters, a medical device that monitors the oxygen saturation of a patient's blood, and with oxygen concentrators.
How doctors and staff are being protected
Dr Tariqul Islam, director of the hospital, said: "From the very beginning of the operation, we are trying to keep our doctors, nurses and staff, safe. We provide them PPE in a dedicated way after examining and ensuring quality. We are spending Tk40 lakh-Tk50 lakh each month only to ensure quality PPE.
"We are providing various sorts of PPE for our staff according to their types of duty. Individuals who work in the ICU, use the most costly PPE. We have to spend Tk3,000-Tk4,000 to prepare a doctor once.
"Some say it is a waste of money but I say it is savings. If our doctors and staff got infected, we would not be able to run the hospital," he added.
According to the Bangladesh Doctors' Foundation, the number of infected doctors reached 1,252 as of June 16. According to the Bangladesh Medical Association, 41 doctors died of Covid-19 till June 17.
New model of treatment
Md Monerul Islam Khan, director (support unit) of Sajida Foundation, said: "85% of Covid-19 patients do not need to come to the hospital. Some people need primary healthcare and a small number of the infected in critical condition, need 24-hour observation at the hospital.
"We are modelling a three-tiered treatment for various types of Covid-19 patients. First, we give advice and treatment to some patients who have mild symptoms and they stay at home. Some patients who are ill but not in critical condition, we treat at another isolated place. And patients who are critically ill and need immediate treatment, are admitted to the hospital.
"If we admit mild or moderately ill patients to the hospital, a critical patient may not get the chance to get admitted here due to a shortage of beds," he added.
Sajida Foundation is doing everything from its own funds and assistance from some corporate donors. The Foundation has asked the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) for financial aid as the Covid-19 situation is worsening day by day and the hospital needs to run more days than the time estimated earlier.
Monerul said: "We are providing treatment for free. We provide from our own funds, all the medicine, food, and even transport costs to bring a patient to hospital. We can’t say how long we will be able to provide all the expenses from our funds but we are trying to gather more funds. The DGHS is trying to help us."
Dr Tariqul Islam said: "We started to run the hospital up to the end of June. It was estimated that Tk8 crore-Tk10 crore would be spent for this period.
"Some corporate entities are helping us as part of their corporate social responsibility. Some are bearing patient-wise costs while some are helping to bring in new equipment."