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Saturday January 11, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Saturday January 11, 2014 MYT 1:27:42 PM
by tashny sukumaran
SUNGAI BULOH: After recovering from three days of dirty toilets and uncollected rubbish, Sungai Buloh Hospital has been hit with an air-conditioning malfunction, which shut down 12 of its 22 general operating theatres.
The breakdown happened after a fire on Thursday.
All elective surgery has been postponed and the hospital, which specialises in neurosurgery, orthopaedics and spine surgery, is using its six day-care OTs for emergency procedures, as well as the two in its emergency department. There are two more OTs in the maternity ward.
Elective surgeries include hip and knee replacements, cataract surgery and hernia repairs.
Doctors at the hospital are at their wit’s end. Several complained about the situation to The Star, saying that there had been insufficient support from the authorities.
“Because of electricity issues, we have had to postpone elective surgeries. Radicare, which provides support services, needs to be held accountable. Who chose this company, and why is it being retained after all these issues?” asked a senior doctor, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Radicare is a company that has been providing non-clinical hospital support services like engineering, maintenance, linen and laundry and waste management.
The doctors said the hospital now catered only for emergency cases. “We haven’t hit critical levels yet. There are the same number of patients and occupied beds but the lack of support is very frustrating,” she added.
Another medical officer said several emergency cases were moved to other hospitals in Selangor.
“Apparently an OT in Selayang Hospital was also shut down recently because of the lack of cleaning staff,” he claimed.
“Currently the temperature in the operating theatres is too high to work in. Anything above 25°C is not a good environment for surgeries or other procedures.”
Another doctor expressed surprise that the theatres were still down after a week, asking why it took so long to fix the problem.
A check on the third floor of the hospital, where the unused operating theatre entrances are located, showed that the air-conditioning was not working and the air was muggy and warm.
Entrances were dark, and there were handwritten notices informing patients and hospital staff to head to the day-care.
A guard said the problem had persisted for about a week.
Inside the rooms were medical scrubs, boxes and black plastic rubbish bags filled with equipment.
Meanwhile, the hospital management said that the problem was with the uninterruptible power supply, or UPS.
“The new UPS has already been ordered for eight operating theatres and will arrive next week,” said hospital director Dr Khalid Ibrahim in a statement yesterday.
However, he did not address the problem facing the four other remaining operating theatres.
Dr Khalid confirmed that some emergency cases had been referred to other hospitals.
He said that despite the double whammy of cleanliness and air-conditioning issues, the hospital was still “manageable” and the situation was being handled.
“The issue with cleanliness is merely that it wasn’t up to our standards. Bathrooms are not as clean as usual and so on,” he said.
“We are treating all emergency cases as usual. It is only the elective cases that are being postponed,” he added.
Doctors who spoke to The Star, however, stressed that the term elective surgery did not mean the procedure was unimportant.
Hospital authorities, however, declined to release the figures of the elective and emergency surgeries conducted before the breakdown.
Radicare Operations Chief for Sungai Buloh Hospital Aziz Jumri did not answer repeated phone calls.
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