SOME government hospitals in the Klang Valley are grappling with the problem of overcrowding. The lack of space is most evident during visiting hours and when medical staff make their rounds to check on patients.
Inpatients occupy spare beds that are placed along the corridors, cubicals and in every nook-and-corner of the medical wards.
A StarMetro team went to the ground following complaints from members of the public who expressed their dissatisfacton over the overcrowded wards and found that Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital (TAR) in Klang, Kajang Hospital and Kuala Lumpur Hospital (HKL) are among the hospitals facing the most severe shortage of beds to accommodate inpatients.
Further checks revealed wards packed to the brim with extra beds occupying every available bit of space, making it hard for visitors to walk along the corridors while visiting their loved ones.
Furthermore, two to five beds were added toeach cubical to accommodate the high volume of inpatients.
Each of the hospitals is equipped with an additional 35% extension beds, which are more mobile than regular hospital beds.
Checks revealed that these hospitals, built more than 28 years ago, are running at beyond their maximum capacity in terms of number of beds.
TAR Hospital has a total of 893 beds with an admission rate of 260 patients daily, while Kajang has a total of 326 beds with an average admission of 64 daily. KLH has 2,115 beds with an average of 324 admission daily.
HKL recorded 118,286 inpatients last year followed by TAR Hospital with 95,000 and Kajang with 24,602.
HKL acts as the government’s tertiary referral hospital and has 83 wards and 2,115 beds with 80% occupancy rate.
Daily, an average of 14,000 patients seek treatment at the hospital and patients are never turned away.
Despite the manifold increase of population over the past three decades, StarMetro’s finding also revealed that the sizes of the wards and number of beds at TAR and Kajang have remained the same ever since they were built.
This is not helped by the fact that there have been no new hospitals built in Selangor over the past 10 years.
As a matter of policy, the government hospitals do not turn away patients who need to be admitted for treatment.
Patients are warded in beds so close together as to leave them feeling uneasy.
Ghani Abdul Majid, 65, who was warded at the TAR hospital for flu, said he was shocked to find patients packed so close to each other.
“The medical staff and visitors find it difficult to move around the ward due to the congestion,” he said
Checks revealed that the situation was prevalent in both male and female wards and the pediatrics.
In many cases, patients get told “Tidak ada katil” (there are no beds), and “Tunggu atur katil” (wait for a bed to be ready).
To ease the situation somewhat, TAR hospital authorities had prepared a discharge lounge for patients to sit while waiting to be discharged so that their beds will be cleared for new patients.
A TAR Hospital staff member said they had created the discharge lounge to reduce the waiting period of admission the wards.
Otherwise, she said, the queue for beds would get even longer.
“We are doing everything possible to accommodate the inpatients and also to quickly discharge them when they are deemed fit.
“The condition of the wards may not appear to be pleasing due to the overcrowding but we do not compromise on treatment for the patients,” she said, adding that the doctors, nurses and staff were required to work much harder in order to cope with the additional beds.
A member of the public who wished to be identified only as Parames said her husband, who contracted dengue fever, was kept waiting at the emergency ward for 15 hours before being admitted at one of the hospitals.
A doctor from the Kajang Hospital who wished not to be named said the bed shortage was most critical in a dengue outbreak.
Checks also revealed that the situation was not much better at some of the semi-government hospitals.
Since there is a lack of government hospitals between HKL and the TAR Hospital in Klang, the bulk of patients head to Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC).
G. Krishnan rushed his daughter Asha D. Krishnan, two, to a government hospital because of severe vomiting and diarrhoea and was forced to transfer the child to a private medical centre as there were no beds available.
More recently, a father who wished to be known only as Nick waited for 12 hours before his son was admitted for a surgery at UMMC.
“It was a long wait but we do not have the money to bring our son to a private hospital.
A spokesman for the Visitors Board of TAR Hospital said there was nothing much the hospital could do about the overcrowding.
He said the hospital had only two choices, either taking the easy way out by not admitting new patients or go out of their way to accommodate them.
“The hospital management decided to choose the difficult path in order ensure the sick ones were given immediate health care.
“The management is handling the situation the best they can and they walk the extra mile to get things done in the best interest of the patients,” he said
A HKL spokesman said the hospital was undergoing upgrading works at its wards under a RM300mil allocation from the Prime Minister’s Department.
The spokesman said the hospital was working towards providing more comfortable beds and a conducive environment for both the patients and the hospital staffs.
It is learnt that Kajang Hospital submitted a development proposal to the Health Ministry and is awaiting its decision.
However, Kajang Hospital director Dr Kuldip Kaur Prem Singh said she was unable to comment on the matter.
HKL is the largest government hospital in the country.