Sabah medical frontliners stretched but not burning out, says Dr Rundi

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s medical frontliners may be overstretched but they are not on the brink of burning out as some quarters claim, says Sabah Health Department director Datuk Dr Christina Rundi (pic).

Denying that they were struggling to cope with the growing number of Covid-19 cases, she said the frontliners were working hard to meet the necessary requirements, including increasing beds at ICUs.

She said a news report quoting an unnamed government medical doctor as saying that junior nurses were being placed in intensive care units (ICU) and nurses from Peninsular Malaysia had to undergo quarantine were inaccurate.

Dr Rundi said 31 trained nurses for intensive care were working in ICU.

She also dismissed a claim that a man who died of Covid-19 at the Putatan clinic near here on Thursday (Oct 29) had earlier been sent back home by the staff of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital 1 (QEH1) due to a lack of beds.

In a statement on Friday (Oct 30), Dr Rundi said the ICU capacity at QEH 1 and Likas Women and Children Hospital had been expanded from 16 beds to 40 beds.

In addition, 24 beds in the high-dependency ward had been converted into an additional ICU, she said.

Rundi said low-risk patients were also now placed in six quarantine and treatment centres to ease the pressure at the hospitals. As of Thursday (Oct 29), there were 76 empty beds at QEH 1 and 71 empty beds at the quarantine and treatment centres.

QEH 1 had 456 beds, while Likas hospital had 117 beds while the quarantine centres had 673 beds, including for children, she said.

According to Dr Rundi, they were continuing to convert more areas into low-risk treatment centres as Sabah continued to see three digit daily increases in Covid-19 cases.

On nurses brought in from Peninsular Malaysia having to undergo two-week quarantine, she said the news report was inaccurate, as they were only required to RT-PCR test and begin work.

On the issue of frontliners feeling stressed out, she said all heads of departments were told to inform their staff to seek counsellors if they felt stressed.

She said that a mental health psychosocial support team had been set up in all districts to provide support for those affected by Covid-19 lockdown, as well as health workers.

Sabah has so far recorded a cumulative total of 14,053 cases.

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