Taher Uddin had been suffering from leg pain for several days. He came to the National Institute of Traumatology and Orthopaedic Rehabilitation (NITOR), better known as Pongu Hospital, early on Wednesday morning and secured a place in the queue to collect a ticket for meeting a physician. But a power outage and lack of staff led to services being suspended for three hours.
“It’s difficult for a patient like me to wait for such a long time in the intense heat. But no official is present at the counter to attend to people’s suffering,” Taher said.
Like Taher, many patients and their relatives had to endure the conditions at the state-run hospital in Dhaka’s Sher-e-Bangla Nagar from 7:30 am to 10:30 am.
The hospital authorities said the incident occurred after one of its electricity circuits shorted. The physicians in the outdoor clinic were seen using candles to attend to the patients.
Patients hospitalised in another building were not affected by the power disruption. The suffering was mostly confined to patients at the outdoors and ticket counters, who were stuck in the heat and the dark as the crowd grew over time.
Mitu Akter, a patient with a pair of crutches waiting in the queue, said she came to the hospital with her father and grandfather, who left her alone outside the counter.
“I can’t afford to stand here any more due to my leg. I can't even call them.”
The relative of another patient, SM Jit Das, said he arrived at the hospital with his sick uncle around 7 am and had to wait for a long time in the queue.
“We are treating only follow-up patients as new patients need a ticket for receiving treatment,” one of the physicians said.
“One of our power circuits shorted out. The circuit at the administration building is on now. Work is underway to restore power at the hospital, said Md Mahfuzul Haque Talukder, an official of the hospital.
The electricity was restored at the hospital around 10:30 am. The authorities resumed ticket services, but struggled to control the crowd.