As he was being taken to one hospital after another, he suffered a brain haemorrhage and was still denied treatment
How Bashabo resident and freedom fighter Almas Uddin died after being denied treatment in several hospitals depicts the gruesome picture of the country's healthcare services in the time of the coronavirus.
Despite being a brain haemorrhage patient, he was denied treatment for 16 hours.
Though his relatives' bold approach helped him get admitted to a public hospital eventually, he did not have easy access to the cabin designated for freedom fighters.
Also, after the hospital admission, he did not undergo any diagnosis required for a brain haemorrhage patient.
He finally breathed his last after nine hours in the hospital.
Almas was feeling unwell on Friday night. His relatives contacted at least three private hospitals where he used to visit regularly for treatment.
Anwer Khan Medical College and Hospital, BRB Hospital and Bangladesh Specialised Hospital – all advised them to take Almas to a public hospital.
He was still able to talk at that time. His two sons rushed him to Birdem General Hospital at 8:30am on Saturday but doctors there referred him to Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College and Hospital.
Emergency doctors of Suhrawardy hospital admitted Almas but duty doctors refused to treat him.
He was then taken to Mugda Medical College and Hospital. It was 1:30pm.
His body temperature was high while his lower limbs were paralysed.
"Emergency doctors of Mugda hospital told me that my father had survived a brain stroke. But the other doctors refused to treat him," Almas' daughter told The Business Standard requesting not to be named.
The family members then contacted Popular Medical College and Hospital dispatchers, informing them of Almas' health history. They got a green signal from the dispatchers and then took him to the hospital.
Emergency doctors admitted him, but specialised physicians, who were then at home, refused to see patients.
Almas was able to take some rest and had drops of saline at the hospital.
The hospital authorities asked Almas' relatives to take him either to Kurmitola General Hospital or Kuwait Bangladesh Friendship Government Hospital.
But Kurmitola hospital was overloaded with patients while the only contact number of Kuwait Bangladesh hospital remained busy.
"Despite that, we took him to Kuwait Bangladesh hospital. We waited at the outdoor section for an hour. Some doctors saw my father and listened to his detail medical history. They found brain haemorrhage syndromes.
"The physicians said my father might not have been infected by coronavirus, but if they keep him with the coronavirus patients, he would be infected," Almas' daughter said.
"The doctors said they would admit my father but would only do so at our risk."
Alams, again, was taken to Mugda hospital. Some of his freedom fighter friends arrived at the hospital after being informed of his situation.
Also, his family contacted the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research, and requested them to collect Almas sample for coronavirus testing.
Freedom fighter and Almas' friend Dr Shah Alam told The Business Standard, "Almas was left lying in the ambulance when he was brought to Mugda hospital. No emergency doctor came."
He said duty doctor Ibrahim did not allow to admit Almas until the relatives could provide him documents, certifying Almas as a non-coronavirus patient.
Finally, with a local Awami League leader's intervention and the push from the freedom fighters who were present at the hospital, Almas was admitted.
It was 10:30pm.
"No hospital staff came forward to take Almas to the medicine ward on the seventh floor. We the aged attendants had to do it. After half an hour, duty doctors injected him with saline.
"Then he was referred to a cabin designated for freedom fighters. But an on-duty nurse denied to take him, saying we had not paid cabin charge in advance. At 12:30am, Almas finally got the cabin," Shah Alam said.
At around 4:30am, Almas' wife called Shah Alam as her husband's health condition was deteriorating.
Again, the friends went to the hospital. They managed intensive care for Almas.
"However, he was only given saline. No proper diagnosis was done," Shah Alam said.
According to Almas' death certificate, he lost the battle at 7:50am.
Almas fought under Sector 2 in the liberation war.
"No one should die like my father..." one of his children said with a deep sigh.