Out of 96 doctors at Sher-E-Bangla Medical College Hospital (SBMCH) in Barishal, 25 of them have been affected by Covid-19, 27 are in home quarantine, and the rest only 44 are providing treatment for some 4,000 patients on average daily in the indoor and outdoor units.
"The crisis of doctors has been continuing for the last two years, and now it has become the worst," said the hospital director, Mohammod Bakir Hossain.
Out of 224 posts of doctors at the hospital, 128 are vacant, which is the main barrier to providing medical facility to the patients in the outdoor and indoor units, he added.
"The hospital has opened Covid-19 unit with 200 beds at a separate building with 12 ventilation facilities. Nine doctors have to work regularly for ten days at a stretch to serve around 140 patients in the unit.
"After 10 days of continuous work, the nine doctors go for a 14-day home quarantine with six more additional days for rest.
"So, every ten days, we are falling short of nine doctors, and in this way, 27 seven doctors have to stay out of duty in a month," the director explained.
The treatment system would be severely hampered if the number of doctors is not increased immediately, Bakir Hossain feared.
"On average in a day, a doctor has to serve for 14 to 16 hours, which is the biggest challenge for them," he noted.
"We have to work for a long time at a stretch in this crisis. And if the lengthy working hours continue for some more days, we may fall sick for excessive work pressure," said Mahabubur Rahman, emergency medical officer of SBMCH – who is now in home quarantine with Covid-19 symptoms.
Md Solaiman Kabir, registrar of the medicine ward, said that a doctor has to work three to four times more than usual.
Sher-E-Bangla Medical College Hospital, the only specialised hospital in the division, was established in 1968 with 250 beds.
In 1975, the number of beds was increased to 500, and later in 2011, the number of beds was increased to 1,000.
However, the hospital lacks a sufficient workforce for smooth operation, said sources in the hospital office.
Moreover, there are no additional human resources for 200 more beds added in its Covid-19 unit recently.
When asked after a query about how the Covid-19 unit was functioning, Mohammod Bakir Hossain replied, "The medical college teachers are now working at the unit to support us."
"I have attached 10 doctors on an urgent basis to the hospital - from different upazilas and district hospitals. I need more time to arrange more doctors for the hospital. I am also keeping contact with the higher authorities," said doctor Bashu Deb Das, divisional director of health and family planning office in Barishal.