Rajshahi and its adjacent districts started to experience a sudden spike in Covid-19 infection in January this year. Rajshahi Medical College Hospital (RMCH) was overwhelmed with a significant increase in Covid patients.
Deaths from the infections soon started to rise.
The RMCH director, Brigadier General Shamim Yazdani, who had just joined the facility two months ago, found the situation difficult – but not impossible to handle. He gradually took up some measures to improve RMCH's Covid-handling capacity.
Shamim Yazdani increased the number of general and intensive care beds at the hospital and ensured central oxygen supply to every bed.
The entire RMCH workforce started treating Covid patients using oxygen cylinders, increased central oxygen connections, oxygen concentrators and high flow nasal cannula.
Now, the hospital's oxygen shortage is not acute anymore.
Shamim Yazdani said, "Before the pandemic, the hospital needed 2,000 to 3,000 litres of oxygen a day. Now we need 15,000 to 16,000. We now have a 10,000-litre oxygen tank."
The RMCH director said work was underway to install another 20,000-litre oxygen tank while another device is being installed to convert liquid oxygen to gas.
Not just solving the oxygen crisis, under Brig Gen Shamim Yazdani's leadership the RMCH now has 515 beds for Covid patients while another 150 will be ready soon.
"With these new beds, it will be possible to treat 900 patients at the hospital with central oxygen, high flow nasal cannula, and oxygen cylinder," said the hospital director.
A 696-member Covid-19 prevention team led by Shamim Yazdani has been working tirelessly at the hospital to ensure treatment for a large number of Covid patients from the division.
But there are other aspects that have got new life at RMCH after Shamim Yazdani took charge.
It is not long ago when a gang of brokers with the connivance of corrupt Ansar members would collect money from patients on various pretexts in Rajshahi Medical College Hospital (RMCH).
The hospital itself was in a feeble state with not enough facilities to render necessary treatment to patients. There was even no one to listen to complaints of health service seekers. In fact, the hospital was synonymous with suffering for patients.
But has transformed the hospital into a patient-friendly healthcare centre with his leadership skills and responsibility in a quick time.
The director has freed the hospital from the brokers with the help of police. He is also trying to break the syndicate of ambulances carrying dead Covid-19 patients.
Besides, he has taken steps for the renovation, beautification and cleanliness work of the hospital.
Shamim said, "Many Ansar members worked hand in glove with brokers to collect money from patients at the hospital. I appointed new ones in place of them. I receive all calls even if it is difficult, which makes it easy to take action against the accused.
"My plan is to change the whole picture of the hospital. But, we are now mostly focused on treating Covid-19 patients. However, we are continuing other works with the cooperation of people and politicians in Rajshahi."
"The image of the hospital is improving. We are getting all the equipment that we need from the government," he added.
Patients and their attendants have expressed satisfaction over the treatment they have been getting in the hospital since the appointment of the new director.
An attendant of a patient said despite the high risk of Covid-19 infection, the director visits all the Covid wards twice daily and talks with patients and their relatives and carefully examines patients' medical files. "He instructs doctors and nurses to take immediate action whenever he finds any problem."
A number of patients and their relatives said they can enter the director's office without any hindrance and talk to him about any kind of problem.
Brig Gen Shamim Yazdani has also withdrawn the hospital's decision of not allowing the entry of journalists to the hospital. The authorities had made the decision in 2014 after a clash between a group of intern doctors of the hospital and some journalists.
Shamim said, "The media is an integral part of our work. Our job is to give treatment to patients. And, it is the responsibility of journalists to write objective reports about our efforts. Due to the media coverage, the government has given us everything we wanted to increase the quality of medical services at the hospital amid the pandemic. Journalists have a role to play in any kind of progress of the hospital."