‘More hospital beds needed’

Grace in times of stress: Indonesian girls wearing face shields as they perform a traditional dance during an exercise session in Tangerang. — AP

A HOSPITAL administration expert is urging the government and health authorities to increase bed capacity and expand isolation facilities ahead of a potential surge in coronavirus patients, as hospitals in Indonesia are quickly running out of space for Covid-19 patients.

Irwandy of Hasanuddin University in Makassar, South Sulawesi, which also manages a university hospital, said the number of Covid-19 patients had increased over the last week.

“This was caused by the lack of public obedience with regard to the health protocols, ” Irwandy said as quoted by kompas.com on Wednesday, noting the mass movement of people who travelled during the long holiday weekend at the end of October.

Earlier this month, the national Covid-19 task force announced that an increasing number of Covid-19 hospitals were running out of beds, with almost every region in the country reporting that bed capacities in isolation wards or intensive care units were full.

“The highest peak of Covid-19 transmission occurred at the end of October and in early November. We could see the impacts a week or two after, ” he said, pointing out that the potential health impacts of public mobility during the year-end holiday season next month would only become evident in higher local transmission rates in January 2021.

Irwandy explained that taking a precautionary approach was necessary since the public was still neglecting the health protocols and travel curbs during long holidays.

“Hospitals should also be ready to anticipate a surge in patients, which I predict could be higher than our current situation.” he said.

Central and regional governments should start reviewing the capacities of local hospitals, he added.

Meanwhile, certain regions with popular tourist destinations such as Central Java, Greater Jakarta and Yogyakarta should pay extra attention to anticipate a spike in daily cases and Covid-19 hospitalisation.

“This is especially important in Yogyakarta since hospitals (there) have reached 78% bed capacity as of November, when ideally it should be less than 60%, ” he said.

Meanwhile, hospitals should generally increase their bed capacity

by 20% to anticipate new Covid-19 patients, he said.

Irwandy stressed that interregional cooperation was vital in developing an information system for sharing data on bed availability for Covid-19 patients.

“Other neighbouring regions could offer assistance if one region is overwhelmed by a surge in Covid-19 cases, ” he said.

In addition to increasing bed capacity, hospitals should also look into establishing more offsite isolation facilities for treating patients with mild Covid-19, including quarantine hotels. — The Jakarta Post/ANN

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