Outbreak revealed flaws

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 15 Jul 2003

KUALA LUMPUR: The management of SARS outbreak in hospitals is good preparation for any future outbreaks as it revealed some weaknesses in the healthcare system, Kuala Lumpur Hospital director Dr Ramlee Rahmat said. 

“In four short months, we had quickly identified the strengths and weaknesses of the healthcare system in managing this new disease and took the necessary measures to deal with the new virus. 

“But we realised we needed to improve on our communication systems to share information between departments that were involved,” he said. 

He said in the beginning, the hospital staff had faced some difficulty in sharing accurate information on SARS among themselves and the public due to the lack of information on the virus itself. 

“But once we received the full details from WHO (World Health Organisation) and the Health Ministry, we were quick to respond by giving out briefings to our personnel, who in turn acted speedily to give correct advice to the public to help allay fears about the illness,” he said. 

He said the hospital, which already had prior experience with outbreaks such as Nipah in 1997, was fully prepared in terms of human resources and equipment. 

He was speaking at a press conference after the closing of the SARS management service at the hospital. The SARS isolation wards, known as Ward 28, was officially closed yesterday and re-opened as a normal medical ward. 

At the ceremony, the hospital staff were treated to a luncheon and presented with certificates of appreciation.  

Dr Ramlee said the hospital had spent over RM700,000 to renovate Ward 28 to cope with the different needs of SARS patients and also to provide the disposable and consumable items for the medical staff. 

He added that other departments such as the laboratories, casualty, pathology, administration and forensic departments were roped in to help manage this crisis.  

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