Ahad, a 12-year old boy, was admitted into Faridpur Medical College Hospital, as he was diagnosed with dengue. While he was under treatment there, water accumulated in his abdomen. Consequently, He was diagnosed with hepatitis, which developed into shock syndrome.
As Ahad’s condition deteriorated, he was shifted to Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH). After 10 days he recovered and returned home on Sunday.
Many critical patients who were suffering from dengue shock syndrome (hemorrhage and dehydration in the body) recovered after receiving treatment at DMCH and returned home within a short period of time.
Sources at the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said, 23,709 dengue patients have so far received treatment in 12 government hospitals in Dhaka city. Of them, 6,379 have been treated at DMCH alone, which is 27 percent of the total dengue patients treated in these hospitals.
The dengue patients are provided treatment mainly at the Department of Medicine at DMCH, while some patients were treated at the Department of Paediatrics at the hospital.
The medicine department of the Hospital has 500 beds in 12 units, where 392 dengue patients are getting treatment. When the dengue outbreak intensified in August this year more than 800 dengue patients were treated at the medicine department.
At that time, more than 200 dengue patients were admitted into DMCH every day. Now the number has come down to less than 100. But still many dengue patients are accommodated on the floor as there is no sufficient beds in these wards.
The physicians at the hospital said critically ill dengue patients admitted into different hospitals across the country are sent to DMCH. Now the number of dengue patients have decreased compared to that in August, but the number of critically ill patients at the hospital are not falling.
Mariam Begum from Chowmuhani in Noakhali has been suffering from dengue for the last 11 days. Initially she was admitted into a local hospital but when her condition deteriorated, she was referred to Dhaka Medical College Hospital on August 26. Now she is under treatment at DMCH medicine department’s ward for severe dengue patients.
Dr Arman Hussain, assistant registrar of the medicine department at DMCH, told The Business Standard, “Dengue patients have to be monitored closely. Initially, the condition of the severe dengue patients has to be monitored every half an hour. The workload of the doctors has increased manifold due to the dengue outbreak.”
Usually more than 1,000 patients at a time receive treatment in the 500-bed medicine department at the DMCH. Some 250 doctors including the professors, associate professors, medical officers, interns and honorary doctors in the 12 units provide treatment to the patients. The medicine department has a hard time tackling patients more than twice its capacity. As the dengue outbreak intensified, they have been handling 500 more patients on an average every day using the same infrastructure and manpower.
Professor Mujibur Rahman of DMCH medicine department said that despite manpower shortage the intern and honorary doctors have been doing their best to tackle the pressure of exceeding number of dengue patients.
He told The Business Standard, “The intern and honorary doctors are our strength. In August there was no fixed roster for them due to the rush of dengue patients. Even now none of them can enjoy their regular day off.”
Intern doctor Nahid Ahmed Tonu could not take a day off since June 29. He said, “Due to dengue, the number of patients admitted here has increased three times more than the normal times. We have to take extra work load to handle the rush of patients. As we are compelled to give more time to handle the dengue patients along with other patients in the ward, we have no time to study.”
Though DGHS has deployed 100 nurses on deputation to the DMCH to meet the scarcity of caregivers, the crisis is not over. On Sunday morning the Unit-6 of medicine department admitted 200 patients, most of whom were suffering from dengue. In the morning shift 16 nurses had to take care of 200 patients. Only three nurses were in charge of 73 patients accommodated on the floor in front of the level-6 ward of the medicine department.
Shahinur, a senior staff nurse of DMCH said, each nurse has to tackle 15 to 20 patients. As the fluid management of more critical dengue patients has to be monitored very closely, the nurses’ workload has increased manifold.
The DMCH Director Brigadier General AKM Nasir Uddin said, “Other hospitals are sending only very critical patients to DMCH. We are treating these patients in the verandas and on floors. It is a matter of surprise to the developed countries that patients suffering from dengue shock syndrome are being kept on the floor and they are recovering after receiving treatment there. This is happening every day.”
Brigadier General AKM Nasir Uddin also said in August, 860 dengue patients were admitted in DMCH, which was the highest.
“It is difficult to manage 860 additional patients in medicine and paediatrics department. We have treated in a single ward as many patients as two 500-bed hospitals in Dhaka could manage. It is apparently a humanly impossible task,” he added.
At present 441 dengue patients are getting treatment in the DMCH. Of them, 92 were admitted on Saturday. This year 6,379 patients have so far received treatment at DMCH and 5,915 of those patients have returned home after recovering.
So far, information about 23 deaths has been sent to the DGHS for review. Till now, DGHS have reviewed the information regarding eight deaths and confirmed that three of them were caused by dengue.
The DMCH sources said, a total of 61 persons including 26 doctors, 21 nurses and 15 staff members have so far been infected with dengue at DMCH. Of them one is still being treated at the Hospital.