Due to lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), doctors at Khulna Medical College Hospital seem to be reluctant to treat people with coronavirus symptoms, causing sufferings or even death to the patients.
Babul Chowdhury from Bagerhat's Mongla can be taken for an instance. The 40-year-old was rushed to KMCH with fever, cough and breathing problems on March 19.
His attendants went to the emergency department from where a medical officer referred him to the medicine unit. From there, he was sent back to outpatient department without any service. His sufferings did not end there. Afterwards, Babul was resent to the emergency department.
It took nearly an hour in the process. Babul's torment ended with his death right there.
Without any test, doctors thought he was infected with coronavirus, said Monowara Begum, Babul's sister who was with him.
Dr Ashrafur Rahman who was on duty at the emergency department at that time, said the patient was suffering from breathing complication while his body temperature was normal.
"As I am not a medicine expert, he [Babul] was asked to go to the department concerned," said Ashrafur.
He, however, admitted that he could be dealt with much care or be sent to the isolation ward. A suspected coronavirus patient should be put in home quarantine as per hospital's decision, he said.
"That's why the man was referred to the outpatient department later," said Dr Ashrafur Rahman.
KMCH Director ATM Monzur Morshed told The Daily Star, "Such a situation is prevailing at the hospital as it has no equipment to diagnosis coronavirus and the doctors have no adequate PPE."
To diagnosis such a patient a doctor need a set of PPE that includes gloves, cap, N-95 coded mask, gown and boot, the director added.
"Only gown, surgical mask, shoe cover and cap were sent to KMCH," said the director.
"We requested IEDCR [Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research] several times to provide us with those and other equipment like PCR machine or scanner to detect coronavirus patient, but to no avail."
A 15-bed isolation ward was opened at KMCH to treat such patients, he said.
With coronavirus symptoms, two women from Batiaghata upazila were admitted to the ward early Wednesday, hospital sources said.
One of them is suffering from fever and the other took her to the KMCH, said Dr Shoilendra Nath. Both have been kept there, he added.
However, most of the cases, "In most cases, we have to refer patients with the deadly virus symptoms to Dhaka," said Director Monzur Morshed.
PATIENTS' NUMBER DROPS BY HALF
Considering the current coronavirus situation, no patient is being kept at the hospital without urgent need. Those who have already been admitted are being discharged on emergency basis, hospital sources said.
A woman named Nilufa Begum (62), who was admitted to the surgery department, was released on Tuesday. Her attendants said she was asked to go to Birdem in Dhaka.
In this way, many patients are being discharged daily with exemptions and many have to go back without any treatment.
Dr Syed Md Mozammel Hossain, head of the surgery department, admitted the fact. "None except for cancer patients or those are in most urgent need is being kept at the hospital."
"We are not allowing anyone who can be cured with medication at home. We recommend everyone to stay at home," said Dr Mozammel.
Hospital records say, patients' number was 1,152 on March 18 but the figure came down to 540 on March 23.