As Indonesian facilities collapse, doctor now must choose among virus patients


Health workers (left) take down the blood pressure of students during a vaccination drive for schoolchildren aged 12-18 in Surabaya on Sunday (July 11, 2021), as Indonesia faces its most serious outbreak driven by the highly infectious Delta variant. - AFP

JAKARTA, July 11 (Bernama): The recent surge in coronavirus infections that exceeded the capacity of hospitals has forced doctors in Indonesia to make difficult decisions regarding life.

Emergency medicine specialist Corona Rintawan told Anadolu Agency he could not help but choose patients who had better chances for treatment.

Rintawan works at the Muhammadiyah Lamongan Hospital in East Java, where beds in emergency and isolation rooms are fully occupied despite continuous additions.

He said the majority of patients come with severe symptoms and oxygen desaturation, while some had to wait for up to three days to get a room.

Rintawan said personnel are no longer able to treat all patients who came to the hospital.

"We were forced to exclude those, who in theory, given any kind of therapy, will not improve. It wasn’t easy to decide, " he said.

Rintawan said it has created psychological pressure for medical personnel as the number of patients requiring intensive care is always higher than available rooms and ventilators.

"For example, if we choose someone to be treated with a ventilator, but after four to five days they don't get better, some of us would think ‘what if it was given to another patient yesterday, would they survive?’ It became a moral burden for us, ” he added.

A pupil receives the Sinovac Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine during a vaccination drive for schoolchildren aged 12-18 in Surabaya on Sunday (July 11, 2021), as Indonesia faces its most serious outbreak driven by the highly infectious Delta variant. - AFPA pupil receives the Sinovac Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine during a vaccination drive for schoolchildren aged 12-18 in Surabaya on Sunday (July 11, 2021), as Indonesia faces its most serious outbreak driven by the highly infectious Delta variant. - AFP

Rintawan said in his 18-year career in emergency medicine, he has never seen a facility face a crisis as bad as this, even when a massive disaster hit the country like the Aceh tsunami in 2004.

Indonesia continues to report record high daily cases, peaking Thursday at 38, 391 infections.

The spike became the highest in the Southeast Asian region, while daily fatalities are one of the highest in Asia.

"The Aceh tsunami, SARS outbreak -- it wasn't this bad. The senior doctors never told stories as bad as this, " he said.

In the context of natural disasters, Rintawan said crises usually occur only in a limited area and aid can be mobilised from other areas.

"As this pandemic is greatly widespread, it is difficult to help other areas because we ourselves are struggling to survive, " he said.

The high mobility of people during the Muslim eid holiday later this month and the rapid spread of the Delta variant is believed to be the reason for the recent surge in infections, pushing the health system to the brink as hospitals run out of oxygen, beds, medicines and staff.

Rintawan said a lot of personnel had no time to self-isolate as they had to continue working because of a staff shortage.

At least 1, 183 health workers have died since the start of the pandemic and the number has increased significantly from June to July, according to Data Report Covid19, a civilian initiative.

"Functionally, we could say that health facilities have collapsed, " he added. - Bernama

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Indonesia , Covid-19 , Health , Collapsed , Delta Variant

   

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