Saheed Shamsuddin Ahmed Hospital in Sylhet, a subsidiary 100-bed hospital under Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College Hospital, was dedicated for treating Covid-19 patients, days before the first patient was detected on April 5.
But with the number of Covid-19 patients increasing everyday, the beds dedicated for them are going to be filled up soon; so the authorities concerned must take immediate steps in this regard, said health experts and concerned citizens.
The hospital capacity has also reduced to 90-bed after a new ICU facility was installed occupying a ward recently.
Moreover, the negotiation to bring in a private hospital under the government management as a dedicated hospital for Covid-19 treatment has come to a halt.
Dr Sushanto Kumar Mahapatro, resident medical officer of Saheed Shamsuddin Ahmed Hospital, said, "There are 71 patients admitted here as of today (Wednesday); it was 81 on Sunday. We are reaching our maximum capacity."
So far, 1,698 persons tested positive for Covid-19 in Sylhet division while 415 recovered, 38 died and 245 are undergoing treatment at different hospitals.
Beside this hospital, 31-bed Shahporan Hospital in Khadimnagar area in Sylhet Sadar upazila and 20-bed Sylhet Infectious Disease Hospital were dedicated for Covid-19 treatment. Sylhet health office also had a plan to use the newly-constructed Dakshin Surma Upazila Hospital.
"These are yet to be used for Covid-19 patients but we are preparing to utilise them for isolation of suspected coronavirus patients. We are also trying to increase health facilities there," Dr Anisur Rahman, assistant director of Sylhet divisional health office, said.
In April, negotiation for dedicating a building of North East Medical College Hospital, a private hospital in Chandipur area, started and the divisional committee for Covid-19 management in Sylhet cleared way for it on May 30.
Md Habibur Rahman Khan, additional secretary (admin wing) to Health Services Division (HSD) of the health ministry, said, "We are not going to sign a contract with the private hospital for dedicated treatment. HSD recently circulated an order to start separate treatment facilities for Covid-19 and non Covid-19 patients at all government and private hospitals with 50 or more beds."
Abdul Karim Kim, coordinator of Sangkhubdho Nagorik Andolon in Sylhet, said, "This is a moment of national crisis and all hospitals must find a way to treat Covid-19 patients". He stressed for more dedicated hospitals to treat Covid-19 patients.
"All government hospitals should start dedicated service for treating Covid-19 suspected and confirmed patients. MAG Osmani Hospital has a central oxygen system, multiple entry access and several floors. They should dedicate some floors of the hospital for Covid-19 patients," he said.
Dr Sultana Razia, divisional director of health in Sylhet, said as per HSD instruction, hospitals with 50+ beds will have to ensure treatment to Covid-19 patients. Hopefully, this will help meet the crisis of institutional treatment, she added.
Meanwhile, Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College Hospital is still not willing to start dedicated service for Covid-19 treatment as the authorities believe it will hamper treatment of other patients who solely rely on them after "being refused at private hospitals".
Dr Himangshu Lal Roy, deputy director of the hospital, said, "If we dedicate ourselves as a Covid-19 hospital, where will the general patients go? Moreover, we have only one building and if we start treating Covid-19 patients, we might put all patients at risk."
"We are not refusing any patient. All suspected ones are primarily treated in isolation while positive patients being referred to Shamsuddin Ahmed Hospital, which is under our management," he said.
Meanwhile, Sylhet City Corporation Mayor Ariful Haque Chowdhury on Tuesday sent two letters to the authorities concerned in this regard.
In a letter to the health minister, he urged for a 500-bed dedicated hospital in Sylhet, through requisition of private hospitals, if needed.
In another letter, he requested the foreign minister, who is also a lawmaker for Sylhet-1, to turn the old central jail to an isolation centre for treating Covid-19 patients. The city corporation will extend full cooperation in this regard, he added. He also discussed the proposal at a meeting with the officials of coronavirus prevention committee in the division yesterday.
"We need more dedicated government hospitals to tackle coronavirus in Sylhet. Also, the government should fix the [Covid-19] treatment cost at private hospitals, so that people won't have to suffer," the mayor told this correspondent yesterday.