Sher-e-Bangla Medical College Hospital: ICU completely out of order
Maruf Hossain Nayan, a physician at Hemayet Uddin Ahmed Diabetic and General Hospital, was suffering from asthma and getting treatment at Sher-e-Bangla Medical College Hospital’s (SBMCH) ICU. Then, at one point on Tuesday, staffers found the last functioning ventilator of the unit not working anymore.
Leaving no other option, Nayan was referred to Dhaka the same day, but sadly, he passed away right before being put into the ambulance, said the on-duty doctors.
This incident raises the question, why was there only one ventilator serving the patients? A recent visit to the hospital’s ICU revealed that most of the essential equipment there gradually went out of order from last year. All ventilators except one broke down three months ago.
As of December 12, out of 16 beds of the unit, only four were occupied by patients. Ten of those beds are supposed to be equipped with ventilators. The unfortunate part is patients who cannot get better treatment elsewhere are forced to remain there, possibly risking their lives.
Shambhu Nath Shil, relative of a patient who was admitted there, said, “Two days ago, I admitted my mother-in-law to the hospital and she was getting treatment at the ICU.”
“But she passed away,” he said. “I was not financially able to send her to Dhaka for better treatment.”
Dr Najmul Ahsan, the only doctor supervising the ICU, said the equipment required to run the emergency ward either broke down or is not available to begin with.
“For such a unit, at least eight to ten physicians, 16-20 nurses, 16 ventilators and other equipment like dialysis, X-ray and ABG machines are required. Since we don’t have these, we can only admit two to three patients at a time and have to refer patients with serious complexities to Dhaka for better treatment,” he said.
Shahnaz Parvin, supervisor of nursing at SBMCH, said the ICU opened on July 23, 2017, and from the very beginning only one physician looked after the unit. “We informed the hospital authorities about our issues and requirements several times but we didn’t see any result,” she said.
Activists of different organisations have raised their voice on the matter, demanding immediate action to resolve the severe healthcare issue.
Ranjit Dutta, secretary of Consumer Association Bangladesh’s Barishal unit, said, “We want SBMCH’s ICU to be functional and appropriately equipped as soon as possible.”
“We want rapid action to make the ICU functional, because for emergencies we constantly have to go to Dhaka for better treatment. This financially burdens patients and wastes their precious time for treatment,” said Anowar Zahid, a health rights activist.
Bangladesher Samajtantrik Dal yesterday formed a human chain in front of the city’s Ashwini Kumar Hall and brought out a procession, demanding justice for Nayan.
This correspondent relayed all demands and issues to SBMCH Director Dr Bakir Hossain to get answers.
When asked about the ICU’s condition, Dr Bakir said the authorities had informed the secretary of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare about the matter on November 27 this year. They also sent a letter to the ministry for approval of ten ventilators but are still waiting for the final decision.
Regarding the issue of only one physician looking after the ICU, Dr Bakir said, “I sent several letters [to the ministry], begging them to support the ICU by providing necessary equipment and specialised staff but could not get any support in this regard.”
“Our anaesthetist Dr Nazmul received relevant training and is continuing his duty at the ICU,” he said. “I told the health ministry about the issue today [Thursday] again,” he added.
As for Nayan’s death, SBMCH authority formed a four-member probe committee, led by SBMCH Deputy Director Dr Jashimuddin, to look into the allegation of unnatural death.
The authority asked the committee to submit a report within seven working days, said Dr Bakir.
“I could’ve never imagined such a thing would happen,” said Mosharraf Hossain, Nayan’s father. ”Someone has to take responsibility for his demise.”