Call ahead so hospitals can assess admissions

PETALING JAYA: Covid-19 patients who need to go to the hospital while under home quarantine should first call the national emergency number 999.

Ambulance service providers said this was to ensure their condition warrants hospital admission and that there was a hospital bed for the patient.

St John Ambulance Malaysia (SJAM) administration executive manager Kevin Peter said patients would have to call and inform the national emergency response team of their condition and the team would decide whether the patient needed to go to the hospital.

“There had been cases where early-stage patients were not admitted upon arrival, as hospitals were already packed with patients experiencing more serious symptoms.

“Now we verify with the hospital if it is ready to admit the patient.

“We cannot be going from one hospital to another looking for a bed. It is not good for the patient, who has to go through the stress and fork out money to pay for the ambulance trips,” he said.

He highlighted that the SJAM fleet nationwide had been overwhelmed as it was supporting the decanting of non-Covid-19 patients from public hospitals to private hospitals in the Greater Klang Valley too, while also supporting some of the vaccination centres and district health offices nationwide.

Other than the 999 emergency line, he said patients could also reach out to the virtual Covid-19 Assessment Centres (CAC) for online consultation on their need to be admitted.

The CAC online consultation was introduced two weeks ago.

Peter advised patients who live in high-rise buildings to reach out and make the necessary arrangements to get food and support.

“Those who can afford food delivery service can get help from the building security management to drop the food at their doorstep, provided that all safety precautions and the SOP are adhered to.

“Those who are having trouble getting food should reach out to food banks, neighbours or friends for help,” he said.

Citing the example of a family in Negri Sembilan who all tested positive, he said they placed a note outside to remind volunteers to leave food and donated items on a table outside their house as no one in the household could answer the door.

According to a call centre officer from SJAM, patients need to utilise the MySejahtera app to keep the Health authority informed of their condition.

“There is no point hiring an ambulance without first checking on bed availability.

“Patients should always update through the home assessment tool in the app and reach out to the CAC or the Health Ministry’s Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre (CPRC) when their condition worsens,” she said.

She revealed that the standard charge for each privately hailed ambulance trip would be RM250 or more depending on time, distance and medical equipment.

For admission at private hospitals for Category 1 and 2 patients, she said the patients would also have to make sure the hospital was willing to admit.

She added that patients living in high-rise buildings had to make numerous arrangements to prepare for home quarantine as well as to keep their neighbours and supporting community safe.

A Malaysian Red Crescent Society (MRCS) ambulance officer, who wished to be known only as Zul, concurred.

He said patients in flats and apartments with no security service had to rely on friends or neighbours to get them food, as delivery riders might not send the food to their doorstep due to safety or security reason.

He, too, highlighted that ambulance services had been overwhelmed, especially in the Klang Valley in recent months.

“MRCS has been taking calls from the Health Ministry for patient transfer and the demand has doubled recently,” he said, adding that many of those patients lived in high-rise buildings.

On July 26, the Greater Klang Valley Special Task Force commander Datuk Dr Chong Chee Keong said patients in need of assistance could contact the CAC call centre at 03-7723 9299 (open 8am to 9pm daily) or the CPRC hotline at 03-7723 9300 (open 8am to midnight daily).

He said all Covid-19 patients in the Greater Klang Valley who were experiencing mild or no symptoms were to undergo home isolation and remote surveillance instead of going to assessment centres.

Close contacts of Covid-19 patients are to self-isolate at home, with no need for testing unless symptomatic, he said.

Patients who have tested positive for Covid-19 and are asymptomatic or experiencing mild symptoms are now required to immediately self-isolate at home, download the MySejahtera app to report their Covid-19 positive test result and get their Digital Home Surveillance Order (HSO).

The digital HSO serves as a reminder that they are officially under the HSO despite not having a pink tag.

Such patients have to complete the home assessment tool (HAT) in the MySejahtera app on a daily basis. The patient’s self-assessments will be monitored through the Virtual CAC Management Module within the eCOVID19 system.

They will be contacted by the CAC call centre should the need arise.

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