The government has taken an ambitious plan to double the capacity of Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) so that it can properly serve the thousands of patients who seek treatment there each day.

DMCH has long been operating far beyond its current capacity of 2,600 beds. About 4,000 people were admitted at the hospital on an average day before the Covid-19 pandemic, and the number dropped to 3,000 after the arrival of the coronavirus made it unethical to keep it so crowded, according to the hospital authorities.

In addition, about 4,000 patients seek treatment at the outdoor unit of DMCH each day. A further 1,000 emergency patients also seek treatment on a daily basis.

As the hospital is always operating beyond its maximum capacity, it can only admit about 300 new patients per day. Emergency patients often have to be kept in various different wards due to the lack of available space, high officials of the hospital said.

According to government officials, architectural and engineering consultancy firm Professional Associates limited has already submitted a draft design for the new DMCH, to be constructed under the Swapno Sakkhor project. Once completed, DMCH will have 5,000 available beds and modern treatment facilities.

A total overhaul

Nine 17-storey buildings will be constructed and allocated for six hospital buildings, a medical college, nursing institute, and utility building, according to the draft plan.

Two emergency treatment facilities and two outdoor facilities will be installed for the patients as well.

In addition, several buildings will be constructed to serve as dormitories Dhaka Medical College students, teachers, and nurses. An administrative building will also be constructed.

In order to protect the heritage of DMCH, which was established in 1946 and played crucial roles during the Language Movement of 1952 and Liberation War of 1971, there will be no changes to its iconic front wall.

According to the draft plan, no vehicle will be allowed inside the DMCH compound except ambulances, and each building will have three-storey basement car parking that will be interconnected with other buildings of the compound.

Automated car parking will be installed and there will be numerous entry and exit points for smooth traffic movement. An overbridge inside the compound will allow medical students to easily travel between the college and dormitory buildings.

An effluent treatment plant, water treatment plant, and sewage treatment plants will be set up in the hospital compound to ensure waste management and supply of water.

The hospital’s information and services system will be digitized and IT-based.

DMCH currently has green spaces on 11-12% of its 30 acres of land. Under the project, the existing green areas will be expanded to 58-60% of the compound by removing small and temporary buildings.

The gold standard of hospitals

Officials concerned said DMCH would be the gold standard of hospitals in the country after it is remodelled.

Brigadier General Md Nazmul Haque, director of DMCH, told Dhaka Tribune: “A draft plan has already been submitted to the government. Now, the departments concerned are giving recommendations for final approval.

“After getting the final report, the work will start as per instructions from the high authorities. We are almost ready. The foundation stone could be lain at any time now,” he further said.

Replying to a question, he said DMCH currently does not have the capacity to deal with many patients suffering from severe cases of specialized illnesses, such as kidney, heart, liver, brain, and eye diseases.

“Usually, we refer these patients to nearby specialized hospitals. When DMCH is remodelled, we will not have to refer so many patients and the pressure on other specialized hospitals will reduce,” he added.

Health Minister Zahid Maleque echoed that the project would turn DMCH into an international standard hospital.

“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has allocated Tk20,000 crore to this end,” he added.

When contacted, officials working closely with the project said it would follow a “build and cut method.” The new buildings will first be constructed, and the old buildings will be demolished once all the medical equipment and facilities are shifted to the new ones.

Dr Monju Ara Begum, chairman of Professional Associates Limited, said: “We are excited to become a part of the Prime Minister’s dream project. Now, our challenge will be to complete this project in a timely manner.”

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