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Short of physicians, Barishal hospital’s burns unit shuts its doors; patients suffer

| Updated: September 18, 2020 21:03:55

Short of physicians, Barishal hospital’s burns unit shuts its doors; patients suffer

Ramiz Uddin Talukder rushed his wife to Sher-e-Bangla Medical College Hospital in Barishal from Patuakhali after she had suffered burns while cooking on a gas stove, bdnews24.com reports.

But after providing primary care, the doctors at the hospital have referred her to a hospital in Dhaka for advanced treatment.

Left without a recourse, Ramiz is now hiring an ambulance to take her to the capital.

Countless other patients with burn injuries are facing the same predicament after a shortage of physicians has forced the burns unit of the region's largest medical facility to close its doors within five years of its inception.

The Burn and Plastic Surgery Department completely stopped providing patient care from May after the unit's senior consultant -- and its sole designated doctor -- MA Azad Sajal was found dead under a lift of a private hospital in Barishal on April 28, the authorities said.

Burns patients are now having to be taken all the way to Dhaka for treatment.

"The department had 30 beds but we always had between 40 and 45 patients. Thousands of patients have been treated in the unit over the years. The unit was the only hope for burns patients in the Barishal division,” Ayesha Akhter Chandni, a nurse at the unit, told the news agency.

Although patients with burn wounds are now treated in the hospital's 'surgery ward', most of them have to be taken to Dhaka after an initial round of treatment, she added.

"The Burn and Plastic Surgery Department was facing a crisis of physicians from the very beginning. However, it had adequate personnel for the other positions. The authorities put Sher-e-Bangla Medical College teacher Dr Shakhawat Hossain in charge of the department to keep things rolling but he has been on leave for the past six months," said the department's Brother Lincoln Dutta.

“MA Azad Sajal, the chief physician of the unit, mainly treated the patients. He was the only doctor. The burns unit was shut down after his death."

The hospital's Director Dr Bakir Hossain also spoke about the dearth of doctors at the burns unit.

"The Burn and Plastic Surgery Department has all necessary measures in place to provide 100 per cent treatment to burns patients except a chief surgeon," he said.

"The hospital was upgraded from 500 beds to 1,000 beds a while ago. However, the required personnel haven't been recruited. We also have to manage a 150-bed coronavirus unit. But of the 224 posts available for doctors, 126 posts remain vacant. We're having to make do with what we have to deal with this crisis."

Asked about the launch of the Burn and Plastic Surgery Department, Bakir said, "It was launched in 2015 under the Surgery Department. Letters have been sent to the authorities about the need for more manpower to resolve the crisis. Now I can only send proposals - it is for the relevant department and the ministry to implement them.”

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