More than 200 private hospitals and clinics in Mymensingh are unable to treat Covid-19 patients due to a lack of capacity.
"High-flow nasal cannulas remain unused due to an oxygen crisis. More and more patients are coming here every day, exceeding our capacity. We cannot admit them and it is heartbreaking to see their relatives crying," said Brigadier General Md Fazlul
Kabir, director of Mymensingh Medical College Hospital (MMCH).
Dr Matiur Rahman Bhuiyan, president of Bangladesh Medical Association's (BMA) Mymensingh unit, said many set up hospitals in Mymensingh in pre-Covid-19 times.
"But they are now reluctant to provide medical service. A lack of capacity cannot be an excuse."
The Covid situation is getting worse day by day in Mymensingh.
Under the tremendous pressure and influx of patients, the MMCH has been upgraded to 402 beds from 230, but even then, there are more patients than beds. Add to that an oxygen shortage, resulting in a serious crisis.
Mymensingh Civil Surgeon Dr Nazrul Islam said they did not get the desired response even after sending two letters to private hospitals and clinics in the city asking for oxygen cylinders.
"We sought help from private hospitals and clinics. But a few have come forward," he said.
Regarding the matter, Dr Hari Shankar Dash, president of the Mymensingh unit of Bangladesh Private Hospital Clinic and Diagnostic Owners Association, said, "Upon getting a letter from the Civil Surgeon seeking oxygen cylinders, we requested 300 members of the organization to come forward. We also sent a separate letter ourselves, later. However, there was no response."
Asked why no private hospital is treating Covid patients, he said the hospitals in Mymensingh actually rely on the private practice of nurses and doctors who think that if Covid patients are treated, they will be harmed commercially. Moreover, there are no ICUs in most of these hospitals.
On condition of anonymity, a hospital owner in Mymensingh said private doctors and nurses were not interested in doing duty in Covid wards. So even if a Covid ward is opened, they would face a critical shortage of doctors and nurses.
Now, MMCH has 363 patients with 402 beds. Of them, 22 are undergoing treatment in the ICU. On Monday, 149 tested positive in the district, out of 708 samples diagnosed. The infection rate is 21.05 %, according to the district civil surgeon office.
Community-based Medical College Hospital, the only private medical college hospital in Mymensingh, has recently launched a 50-bed Covid ward. But hospital authorities say that the numbers of beds won't be increased due to the oxygen crisis.
Prof Dr Karim Khan, director of the hospital, said, "We can't do much because we don't have central oxygen distribution. There is also a crisis of oxygen cylinders. "
Responding, Dr Md Mohiuddin Khan, focal person for Covid Medicine of MMCH, said the Community-based hospital is negligent in starting timely Covid treatment. They can treat patients with mild to moderate symptoms and the lack of central oxygen is not an obstacle here.
"Those who have grown rich dealing with disease for so long, are now staying away with lame excuses. The local administration should take action against them," Shushanar Janniya Nagorik - SHUJAN's Mymensingh unit secretary, Ali Yusuf said.
Shafiqul Islam who came to MMCH from Tangail with his dying grandfather, said the doctor advised he be transferred to the ICU.
"I applied for an ICU seat for my grandfather two days ago but haven't got one yet," he said.
MMCH director Md Fazlul Kabir said a lot of patients are coming to the hospital, not only from Mymensingh division but also from the surrounding districts of Kishoreganj, Sunamganj, Tangail, Kurigram, and Gazipur.
"We have been forced to put up a sign board in front of the hospital saying there are no empty beds available here."
He sought the cooperation of government high-ups to solve the problem of skilled manpower, equipment, and oxygen in the ICU.