KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 18 — Private hospitals should not treat Covid-19 patients as the majority of their anaesthesiologists and intensivists are elderly, a high-risk group, a specialist said, unlike their younger counterparts in the public sector.
Anaesthesiologists and intensivists who treat severely sick and critical Covid-19 cases on ventilator support face high exposure to the coronavirus, as they are required to get inches within a patient’s face to intubate them.
“You can do decanting of all your non-Covid-19 cases to a private hospital, we can look after them,” said Dr Musa Mohd Nordin, a consultant paediatrician at KPJ Damansara Specialist Hospital, during a webinar organised by the Edunity Foundation and G25 Malaysia last week.
“Remember, many of the anaesthesiologists, intensivists, respirologists in private hospitals are high-risk doctors — they are well beyond 60 years old. This is unlike the specialists in the public hospitals who are Generation Y — 30, 40, and 50 years.
“So, I think it’s extremely important that we do not expose our specialists in our private hospitals,” Dr Musa stressed.
He also said that public hospitals can decongest at least 80 per cent of beds which are occupied by Stage One (asymptomatic) and Stage Two (mild) Covid-19 patients.
A meeting between the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Association of Private Hospitals of Malaysia (APHM) on January 13 had discussed an allocation of 10 per cent of wards, high-dependency wards, and intensive care unit (ICU) wards in private hospitals for Covid-19 patients. Private hospitals were also told to manage Covid-19 cases up to the ICU level and MOH hospitals would no longer accept Covid-19 referrals from private hospitals.
APHM president Dr Kuljit Singh, however, told CodeBlue that a full agreement was not reached at that meeting, as he stressed that not all private hospitals had the capacity and capability to manage critically ill Covid-19 patients.
The proportion of Stage 4 and 5 Covid-19 patients, who require supplemental oxygen or ventilator support, at Sungai Buloh Hospital, Malaysia’s main Covid-19 hospital in Selangor, has been rising from 2.76 per cent on November 2 last year to 15.49 per cent on January 11.
A January 14 Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre (CPRC) document on the integration of public and private hospital services during the Covid-19 pandemic, as sighted by CodeBlue, envisioned creating Covid-19 cluster hospitals, where private Covid hospitals can be identified as either hybrid or full Covid hospitals that either treat mild Covid-19 patients, serious or critical Covid-19 patients in ICU, or all categories of Covid-19 cases. Private hospitals were also asked to accept new Covid-19 cases, especially Category 3 patients who have pneumonia, but can still breathe on their own.