ICU capacity nears breaking point

It’s a struggle: Six hospitals that allocated beds at ICUs and critical treatment centres for Covid-19 patients have already hit the alert threshold. — Photo from Dr Noor Hisham’s Facebook page

PETALING JAYA: Government hospitals around the Klang Valley are running out of beds at intensive care units (ICUs) to treat critical Covid-19 cases, says Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

The Health director-general said Hospital Sungai Buloh had seen more than 20 case referrals to the ICU daily in the past one week, adding that the hospital was almost running out of beds.

“Sixty-three ICU patients, with more than 25 critically ill patients to be reviewed in the general ward and emergency department and more than 20 case referrals to ICU daily in the past one week in Hospital Sungai Buloh, ” he said in a Facebook post yesterday.

Dr Noor Hisham added that Hospital Sungai Buloh, which has been fully dedicated to treating Covid-19 cases, would be increasing its ICU and critical treatment bed capacity in phases to keep up with the rising number of cases.

He said the Health Ministry started procuring equipment such as ventilators last year to enable the hospital to increase its capacity when needed.

In a series of posts, Dr Noor Hisham explained how the public healthcare system was struggling to manage the load of critical Covid-19 cases.

He said six hospitals that allocated beds at ICUs and critical treatment centres for Covid-19 patients had already hit the alert threshold.

“Hospital Sungai Buloh, Hospital Kuala Lumpur, Hospital Ampang, Hospital Serdang, Hospital Selayang and Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahimah are already over 70% capacity with some of them almost hitting 100%.

“At Universiti Malaya Medical Centre, ICU bed capacity is now over 50%, ” he added.

Dr Noor Hisham said hospitals in the Klang Valley were also forced to reduce or postpone surgeries and other elective procedures to prioritise the treatment of Covid-19 patients.

He explained that this move would also enable healthcare workers to be mobilised to critical areas to treat Covid-19 cases when needed.

“The Health Ministry will be working with the private sector to increase bed capacity for critical patients.

“We will also seek their services to treat non-Covid-19 patients at private hospitals where the cost will be borne by the government at an agreed rate, ” he said, noting that this measure had been in place since the second wave of infections hit last year.

Dr Noor Hisham again reminded the public to strictly follow the standard operating procedure to curb infections.

“100% compliance is crucial for the country to get back on its feet, ” he said.

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