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NICVD struggles with overflowing patients
Manzur H Maswood:
With severe pain in the heart, 65-year old Shahjahan Chowdhury came to the National Institute of Cardiovascular Disease and Hospital at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar in Dhaka all the way from Kashba of Brahmanbaria on October 11.
Doctors advised his immediate admission as several blockages were detected in his coronary arteries.
Shahjahan took admission, but in the past seven days he could not get a bed.
His attendants got some space in the staircase in front of the male cardiology ward.
‘My father has been here round the clock for the past seven days,’ Shahjahan’s son Delowar Hossain Chowdhury told New Age on Thursday.
‘Doctors have not denied him treatment, but they cannot arrange a bed as patients coming earlier get priority,’ said Delowar, an auto-rickshaw driver.
Like Shahjahan, Narayan Rajbangshi came to the hospital with similar complications from Manikganj on October 16.
Narayan and his attendants got some space in the corridor of the male cardiology ward and continued staying there.
His son Gopal Rajbangshi said that his father needed some comfort having breathing complication.
‘A bed may be helpful for my father, but how can we arrange the bed if it is not available,’ said Gopal.
Like Shahjahan and Narayan, hundreds of cardiac patients took shelter at the floor in the allies, corridors, staircases and other places, be it in front of bathroom or reading room, making it difficult for doctors and nurses to move through the crowd of patients and their attendants.
Doctors said that the cardiac patients needed special beds with comfort and technological facilities, but surge of patients made the hospital impossible to arrange beds for them.
They said that the over crowding of patients and attendants increased the risks of infectious diseases and even suffocation.
NICVD director Afzalur Rahman said that there were only 414 beds at the hospital, but they had to accommodate at least 950–1,000 patients every day.
‘We don’t deny treatment to the patients as they are mostly from the poor families, but we cannot arrange quality services for them,’ he told New Age on Thursday.
Usually the critical patients flock to the hospital, the only specialised government cardiac hospital in the country.
The treatment cost is minimal at the hospital as the beds, certain amount of medicines and foods are free for the patients.
In 2017, about 70,000 patients were treated at the inpatient department at the hospital.
The average hospital stay rate was five days with bed occupancy rate of 200 per cent at the hospital, officials said.
In 2017, at least 810 patients underwent open heart surgeries and 2,164 vascular surgeries.
Besides, 10,613 patients underwent procedures at the catheterisation laboratories in 2017.
Alongside the indoor services, the hospital provides treatment to 2.64 lakh patients in outpatient department in 2017.
Afzalur Rahman said that the number of patients at the hospital was on the rise and considering the situation initiatives had already been taken for extension of the facilities.
The work for extension began in June with a plan to extend the four-storey hospital to eight-storey and the work was expected to be completed by December, he said.
Once the extension is completed, the number beds will be increased to 1,250, he said.
The existing 7-bed ICU will be extended to 48-bed one and new 12-bed paediatric ICU, 12-bed vascular ICU will be added, he said.
The number of operation theatres will be increased to 10 from the existing three and cauterisation labs will be increased to six from the existing three, Afzal said.
The hospital also started modernisation to the operation theatres, which were not renovated in the past 24 years, said the director.
He said that the modernised operation theatres would be facilitated with anti-infective agents and would require no further renovation in 50 years.
Afzal said that the government increased the budget for the medicines, equipment, foods and other purposes at the hospital by about Tk 10 crore for a year. The budgetary allocation was Tk 30 crore in 2017 and Tk 40 crore in 2018.
He said that the hospital now provided costly lifesaving injection Streptokinase to all the patients who needed it free of cost.
This injection is required for the critical cardiac patients within short time after the cardiac arrest, Afzal said, adding that even the relatives of a patient cannot get enough time to buy it.