Ever since it was established more than 10 years ago, Tarabunia 20-bed Hospital in Shariatpur's Vedorganj upazila has failed to be of any use to around two lakh people from the char areas due to a lack of doctors, nurses, and other staff.
Local people are angry without any scope for medical care at the hospital, although the need is dire amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Despite having modern equipment, lab and operation theatre, the department of health did not appoint any manpower to the hospital since it was established in 2010. The local health office launched the outdoor department here on a limited scale with the help of some of their officials. A doctor was appointed to the hospital in 2015, but was transferred in a few days, soon thereafter.
The hospital has four junior consultants posts, one residential medical officer (RMO) position, post for one assistant surgeon, eight senior staff nurses, one lab technician, one pharmacist, and 11 office assistants and security guards. But right now, there is no one appointed to any of the 25 vacant posts.
On 23 October 2019, doctor Andrilla Manisha Chatterjee was appointed to the hospital as the RMO. However, she left the hospital and went to the Physiology Department of Dhaka Medical College Hospital on deputation the very same day.
She was contacted over the phone on this issue. She said, "I was posted to Tarabunia 20-bed Hospital on the condition that I would work in Dhaka Medical College Hospital on deputation. I went to Shariatpur with two orders from the health department. I came back to Dhaka Medical on the same day."
On 6 September 2019, Tasneem Jahan Juthika was appointed to the hospital as an assistant surgeon by the Department of Health. She used to go to the hospital from time to time but is currently working on deputation at the Kurmitola 500-bed Hospital in Dhaka.
The Shariatpur health department has deputed a medical officer and a sub-assistant community medical officer to ensure that the hospital does not completely shut down, but they can rarely be found on duty.
Bipul Kumar Gain, Deputy Assistant Community Medical Officer of Charkumaria Sub-Health Center, Vedharganj, is currently on deputation to the hospital. He said, "Some patients come to the outdoor department. I try to give them first aid."
On Wednesday (23 June), this reporter found only a caretaker in charge of the entire two-storey hospital. He was telling patients, who had come from far away villages, that there were no doctors or nurses at the hospital. When the patients asked for medicine, he showed them empty packages.
Many of the doors and windows of the hospital were broken. The furniture was also broken and scattered across the floor. However, the operation theatre still looked tidy.
There are two separate wards for men and women, a separate room for nurses, and a huge emergency department and reception centre. But everything is covered in dust.
However, the authorities are building another 5-storey building on the hospital premises, although the entire premises have become a grazing ground for cows and goats, and the existing hospital lies unused.
Shahina Akhter, a local resident, came to the hospital with her little child for treatment. She said, "My daughter has been suffering from fever for the last one week. I waited for hours for the doctor and now I am going back. I don't know what will happen to my daughter."
Sekandar Hawladar (60), has been coming to the hospital for the past three days for treatment, but he is yet to find a doctor.
"The government has given all the equipment, but it is of no use. It's a big hospital, but there is no doctor or medicine. Everything is falling into ruin," he said.
Retired army officer Ismail Hossain and his relatives donated the land for the hospital. One of the family is Khoka Bepari. He said, "The land was given to ensure medical services for people of the char areas. The government has built a beautiful hospital and it has all the modern facilities. But people are deprived of services from the beginning simply because of a lack of manpower."
"About two lakh people from nine unions in the region are waiting for treatment at this hospital. But sadly they have to go to Chandpur or Dhaka for treatment even in these corona times," he added.
Abdullah Al Murad, civil surgeon of Shariatpur, said, "The hospital had a staffing structure of 25 people. But no one is being assigned. The department of health decides on appointments and the two doctors who were posted here have also left for Dhaka on deputation. We have written many times requesting the deployment of medical and other staff for the hospital. We are still waiting for an answer."