Hospitals in Khulna: Oxygen, beds crises severe
With Covid-19 cases continuing to surge, health facilities in Khulna are grappling with an acute crisis of hospital beds and oxygen due to the influx of patients.
Some patients coming to Khulna Medical College Hospital (KMCH) were seen failing to get admitted to the hospital due to the lack of beds in the hospital's overflowing Covid-19 unit.
Thirty-five-year-old Nadia Sultana from Damodar of Phultala upazila was brought to the hospital yesterday morning.
"She could not get admitted due to the lack of beds. We are now taking her to Dhaka for treatment," her brother Habibur Rahman told The Daily Star yesterday.
He said that her situation was deteriorating fast, adding that her oxygen saturation had dropped to 85 percent on Friday night.
Khulna division has become the country's new Covid-19 hotspot with the number of deaths and cases increasing every day. According to the Directorate General of Health Services, 39 Covid-19 patients died in the past 24 hours till 8:00am yesterday, while 35 people died on Friday.
Yesterday, the positivity rate in Khulna was 33.56 percent against 1,606 tests, while it was 38.19 percent against 3,145 tests on Friday.
KMCH is one of four hospitals treating Covid-19 patients in Khulna city, where patients from almost all districts of the division come for treatment.
As of yesterday, 423 people were admitted against 365 dedicated Covid-19 beds at the city's three hospitals.
Relatives of patients at KMCH complained that patients were not getting sufficient oxygen flow.
"The oxygen level is low at the hospital and at night it decreases further," complained Sabbir Sheikh, one patient's son.
Sajib Rayhan, Khulna Divisional Store Officer of Spectra, told The Daily Star that the sudden increase in the number of patients has caused abnormal pressure at these hospitals.
He said the demand for oxygen in hospitals has increased three-fold.
"We used to supply on average 50 cylinders daily to KMCH since last year. But demand shot up in the last couple of months. We supplied 301 small and 16 oxygen big cylinders yesterday," said Rayhan.
KMCH's 5 kilolitre (kl) capacity central oxygen system was recently upgraded to 10 kl by Linde Bangladesh.
Dr Suhash Ranjan Haldar, RMO and spokesman of KMCH's Covid-19 unit, told The Daily Star that 77 of the 130 beds have central oxygen supply.
He said that they were managing oxygen supply despite the large influx of patients.
"We are expecting another oxygen plant to be operated within a month," he said, adding that it would solve any current oxygen shortages.
Currently, KMCH has a 20-bed ICU unit and 53 high-flow nasal cannulas, said hospital sources.
However, the RT-PCR lab of the hospital has been closed since Wednesday due to "contamination". Authorities said Covid-19 tests would resume yesterday afternoon.
"We are still trying to work with samples on PCR machines. We have tried twice but we were not able to run it at a satisfactory level," said Shahnaz Parveen, head of the microbiology department at KMCH.
"I can't say exactly when it will be okay. Around 800 samples have been collected and 2,000 samples have already been sent to Dhaka," she added.
Kazi Abu Rashed, spokesman of the 70-bed Covid-19 unit at Khulna General Hospital, said that there was no shortage of oxygen.
"A crisis can occur if the tank is empty. But we inform the demand in advance," he said.
Gazi Mizanur Rahman, owner of Gazi Medical College Hospital, told The Daily Star that it has become difficult for them to provide oxygen to admitted patients. The hospital has around 150 cylinders but at times, demand rises sharply, he said.
Khulna Oxygen Bank has been providing free oxygen services to the people of Khulna for the last year. The demand for oxygen has risen sharply.
"There was an average daily demand of 40-50 oxygen cylinders when we started operations last year. But we are now supplying 200 cylinders daily and still that is not enough,"Asad Sheikh, a member of the organisation, told The Daily Star yesterday.
Contacted, Dr Rashida Sultana, director (health) of Khulna division, said the division's treatment facilities are sufficient to tackle the new Covid-19 surge.
However, according to the respective civil surgeons, only Khulna, Jashore, Bagerhat, Satkhira, Meherpur, Kushtia, Chuadanga, and Narail have central oxygen systems.
The division has a total of 304 high-flow nasal cannulas, said Dr Rashida. She added that 45 dedicated Covid beds along with a 10-bed ICU unit at Shaheed Sheikh Abu Naser Specialised Hospital in Khulna started operation yesterday.
A total of 1,168 people have died of Covid-19 in Khulna division and the total number of cases stands at 59,256.
Probe bodies formed
Two government probe bodies formed to investigate the deaths of five Covid-19 patients at a hospital due to shortage of oxygen have started functioning.
One of the probe bodies was formed by the authorities of Satkhira Medical College Hospital where the patients died and another one was formed by the district administration.
On June 30, five Covid-19 patients died within 25 minutes between 7:30pm to 7:55pm, allegedly due to a shortage of oxygen. The incident triggered outrage among people in the region.
In Bogura, the shortage of high-flow nasal cannulas (HFNC) is likely to be resolved as two government hospitals yesterday received 20 sets of HFNC under a private initiative.
Furthermore, around 10 to 15 more HFNC sets will be provided by the government tomorrow, said officials concerned.
The hospitals are Bogura's Mohammad Ali Hospital and Shaheed Ziaur Rahman Medical College Hospital (SZMCH).
Such quick initiatives to provide the HFNCs were triggered by recent media reports that said some seven Covid-19 patients died on Thursday and Friday at Mohammad Ali Hospital due to a shortage of HFNC.
Yesterday, a total of 226 Covid-19 patients were admitted at Mohammad Ali Hospital, while 102 were admitted to SZMCH.
The district is considered a Covid-19 hotspot. A total of 414 have died of Covid-19, of whom 45 died in the last week.