AS cases increase in Penang, the Health Ministry is stepping up treatment efforts by converting the 131-year-old Bukit Mertajam Hospital into a Hybrid Covid-19 Hospital.
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah announced yesterday that the Penang Health Department acted swiftly to convert the hospital after six days of planning and intensive preparation.
The hybrid hospital took in its first Covid-19 patient yesterday morning.
Dr Noor Hisham said the hybrid facilities at the hospital included 72 beds with pipe-in oxygen for Covid-19 patients and would be expandable to 120 beds if the need increased.
The hospital will even be able to take in haemodialysis patients infected with Covid-19 as all the wards are fitted with facilities for bedside haemodialysis.
All speciality services in Bukit Mertajam Hospital will still be provided albeit with reduced capacity for surgery, maternity and paediatrics.
Dr Noor Hisham said non-Covid patients would be diverted to other hospitals in Seberang Prai when the need arises.
He thanked the Bukit Mertajam Hospital team and Edgenta Mediserve for converting the hospital to a hybrid hospital for Covid-19.
Penang has been grappling with a high number of daily Covid-19 cases over the past few weeks.
Central Seberang Prai recorded the highest numbers in the two weeks from between July 11 and July 22 with 1,913 currently active cases.
The district also recorded the highest incidence rate among the five districts with 458.3 infections per 100,000 population.
Statewide, the incidence rate is 277.7 infections per 100,000 population, with an R-naught (infectivity) value of 1.23.
Of the 505 new cases recorded on Saturday, 177 (35%) were in Category One with no symptoms, 311 (61.6%) were in Category Two with mild symptoms, 13 cases (2.6%) were Category Three with lung infections, three (0.6%) were Category Four cases needing oxygen aid and one case (0.2%) fell into Category Five with ventilation aid.
State health committee chairman Dr Norlela Ariffin said the move comes at the right time as it will cater to the increasing number of Covid-19 patients in the districts.
“The upgrading of the hospital will help those who are in Categories Three and Four to get treatment before it is too late.”
She said the presence of the Hybrid Covid-19 Hospital in Bukit Mertajam would enable people living in neighbouring districts and those infected with the virus to quickly get treatment.
Previously, only Penang Hospital on the island and Kepala Batas Hospital on the mainland were designated as Covid-19 hospitals.
In May, the army built a modular 24-bed field hospital intensive care unit in the parking compound of Kepala Batas Hospital that could accommodate high-risk Covid-19 patients and provide ventilators to help those suffering from respiratory difficulty.