THE field hospital in the parking lot of Penang Hospital in George Town is expected to be ready within 10 days, said Lt Kol Dr Mohd Zamri Deraman.
The commanding officer, who is heading the army operation, said although the setup was targeted for completion in 10 days, he was confident that it could be ready ahead of time.
“A total of four officers and 50 army personnel will work round the clock to put up the structures.
“Rain or shine, we will continue doing our best and hopefully the field hospital can begin operations as soon as possible.
“Our work is further challenged with the presence of a tree that is said to be over 100 years old in the car park.
“We will not cut it down and instead try to pitch the tents around it.
“We trimmed some of its branches and leaves to ensure safety,” he said when met at the field hospital site yesterday.
Dr Mohd Zamri added that relevant medical equipment to be transported from Tuanku Mizan Armed Forces Hospital in Wangsa Maju, Kuala Kumpur, would be arriving on Saturday.
“The technical equipment such as tents, patient beds and air conditioners arrived on Wednesday evening and we will set them up first before installing the medical equipment.
“We are pitching 23 tents that can accommodate100 beds.
“Four of them are intensive care unit (ICU) beds, while the remaining 96 are ‘acute’ beds to treat Category 4 patients,” he said.
On Saturday, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the field hospital would be set up by the army and Health Ministry at the parking lot of the hospital.
The decision to build the field hospital was mooted after Penang Hospital reached its critical capacity due to increasing Covid-19 cases.
Khairy said the field hospital would be equipped with respiratory facilities, ICU equipment and other facilities.
Meanwhile, Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim, who is coordinator between the Federal and Penang governments on Covid-19 issues, said it was important to speed up the process of setting up the field hospital to hasten the provision of more facilities to treat patients and prevent deaths.
“In this state of sporadic infection, it is important that we treat patients fast and prevent death.
“The Health Minister announced the plan for the field hospital last Saturday and both the army and Health Ministry have sprung into action since Wednesday.
“When the field hospital here is completed, we will have 100 extra beds for Covid-19 patients, including ICU beds.
“I have outlined several key focus areas that both the state and federal governments could work on with priority to increase the capacity of our healthcare system,” he said.
Sim added that due to the encouraging uptake of vaccines in Penang under the National Covid-19 immunisation programme, almost 97% to 98% of coronavirus cases in Penang were low category cases.
“We need to ensure that patients in the more serious categories will receive immediate treatment to save lives.
“There will be an addition of 32 beds for Covid-19 patients in Bukit Mertajam Hospital soon through the hospital’s expansion project.
“Besides, a network of private hospitals in Penang has agreed to take in up to 300 patients with other illnesses to allow for additional space in public hospitals for Covid-19 patients,” he said.