When the country’s hospitals were struggling to ensure uninterrupted oxygen supply to critical coronavirus patients, a group of 14 Buet alumni came to their aid three months ago by installing central oxygen systems for treating Covid-19 patients.
They are enngineers, architects and planners, from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology’s graduating class of 2012, who united under an initiative called “Projotne Canvas”.
The team developed the small centralised oxygen supply systems and installed them in around 30 beds at each of nine public and private hospitals.
They will soon activate the systems in two more hospitals.
“We wanted to best use our technical skills to help the country meet the growing demand for oxygen supply,” Mithun Raha, coordinator of the initiative, told The Daily Star.
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought to the limelight the need for uninterrupted oxygen supply for the treatment of patients suffering from respiratory distress, whereas many public hospitals do not have a nonstop supply of oxygen and use oxygen cylinders instead.
“We made up our mind to do something and started collecting funds from our batch mates for the first project that we did at Chattogram Field Hospital after Eid-ul-Fitr. When this project was successfully done, it inspired us to do more,” he said.
The initiative received support from donors for their next projects — including from the Ispahani Group, Manusher Jonno Foundation, Child Health Awareness Foundation, and another Buet alumni group.
At government upazila health complexes, “Projotne Canvas” only provided technical assistance, Mithun said.
They installed a central oxygen system connected to around 30 beds at each hospital at a cost of Tk 6-10 lakh, without technical costs. If installed commercially, it would have taken around Tk 25 lakh, he said.
Since all Covid-19 patients at a hospital don’t require oxygen at a time, the project made the arrangement for 30 beds so that patients who require oxygen can be shifted to those beds, when needed. And because this is a permanent set-up, other patients who require oxygen will benefit from this arrangement, said Mithun.
Currently, the team is aspiring to multiply this project in various hospitals.
“Besides, we will be glad to introduce other initiatives where we can use our technical and engineering skills,” added Mithun.
The hospitals where the system has already been installed are Chattogram Field Hospital; Bangladesh Institute of Tropical and Infectious Diseases (BITID) in Fouzderhat; Manikganj Sadar Hospital; Chattogram Maa-O-Shishu Hospital in Agrabad; Hathazari Upazila Health Complex; Chakaria Upazila Health Complex in Cox’s Bazar; Khulna Medical College (Flu Corner); Khulna Diabetic Hospital; and Bangladesh Cancer Society Hospital and Welfare Home in Dhaka.
Work on setting up the system in Noakhali General Hospital and SK Hospital of Mymensingh will start soon.
Contacted, Dr MA Hassan, director of BITID, said, “In my hospital, they have installed 18 large cylinders, which are 10 times larger than regular cylinders, centrally. It helped us a lot in terms of demand and supply as we needed to refill our cylinders two to three times a day earlier.”
He said a non-Covid patient suffering from breathing issues might need between two to three litres of oxygen per minute, whereas Covid-19 patients require around 20 litres per minute.
“Now we have a total of 34 ports, through which we will be able to supply oxygen for 34 patients at a time,” said the BITID director.
Besides, the hospital is now being able to use high flow nasal cannulas for delivering high rates of oxygen to critical patients, which was difficult to do with the regular-sized cylinders.