70 patients are waiting for 20 ICU beds in Rajshahi hospital as COVID hits borders

Rajshahi Medical College Hospital has recently doubled the Intensive Care Unit or ICU capacity, but the expansion appears far from sufficient amid a surge in coronavirus cases.

As many as 70 patients were waiting for the improvement in the health, or death, of others undergoing treatment at the ICU on Thursday.

Among the patients at the ICU, 12 have tested positive for the coronavirus while the rest have symptoms of COVID-19. 

“We are putting the ICU patients in the general wards whenever their health improves a bit. An (ICU) bed also falls vacant when a patient dies. We're then calling the waiting patients as per the serial numbers,” said Brig Gen Shamim Yazdani, the director of the hospital.

As many as seven to 10 ICU beds become vacant daily, which means the last patient in line may have to wait at least a week, he pointed out.

Besides doubling the ICU capacity, the hospital has also turned a number of general wards to COVID-19 units after the coronavirus cases began rising in the border districts.

Gen Yazdani had said four days ago that their structural capacity would not permit further extension of the ICU.

The hospital can now admit more than 300 coronavirus patients, but the doctors are overwhelmed as the authorities are failing to increase the capacity to tackle the surge in cases, he said on Thursday.

The COVID-19 situation has badly affected the treatment of other patients as well, the director said.

The largest hospital in the north, the RMCH has 1,200 beds. Patients also come from nearby districts of Chanpainawabganj, Natore, Naogaon, Joypurhat, Pabna, Sirajganj, Kushtia, Meherpur and Chuadanga.