MOH Recruits Senior Trainee Doctors For Covid Care As Health System Buckles

By Ashswita Ravindran | 21 January 2021

Housemen in their fifth and sixth posting will be allowed to manage all Covid-19 patients, from stage one to five of disease, and are eligible for the special Covid-19 allowance.

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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 21 — The Ministry of Health (MOH) will start roping in senior house officers to manage Covid-19 patients, including those in critical condition, amid a surge of severe coronavirus cases.

Based on an internal circular by Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah dated January 18, it stated that due to the rising number of Covid-19 cases, a new guideline has been prepared to give leeway for housemen in their fifth and sixth posting to be exposed to Covid-19 treatment in their respective hospitals and public health clinics (Klinik Kesihatan), effective immediately.

Generally, all house officers will have to undergo six rotations during their two-year training. Fifth or sixth posting housemen are seniors who are about to finish their training before becoming medical officers.

“According to the ruling, all housemen are prohibited from being involved in handling and treating Covid-19 cases,” said Dr Noor Hisham in his letter, as sighted by CodeBlue.

“Accordingly, a new guideline has been prepared to provide flexibility to housemen in the fifth and sixth posting who meet the criteria for early exposure in the management of Covid-19 patients without compromising their training.”

Among the inclusion criteria include:

  • Housemen in their fifth and sixth posting only
  • Housemen who have undergone or are undergoing their medical posting
  • Housemen who have passed their assessment and completed their logbooks in the respective departments
  • Housemen with full registration
  • Housemen without disciplinary issues

Meanwhile, immunocompromised, pregnant, or incompetent house officers, as well as those with chronic illness or mental health issues will be excluded from being a part of the Covid-19 team.

The rotation period will only be for 14 days, which is two weeks before the houseman completes their fifth or sixth posting, to ensure that the houseman has already completed their training in the existing department, passed the assessment, and submitted their logbook.

“Chosen housemen are allowed to undergo the Covid-19 rotation one-time only throughout their housemanship,” the guideline stated.

“This means that if the houseman has undergone the Covid-19 rotation during their fifth posting, they are no longer allowed to undergo the Covid-19 rotation in their sixth posting.”

House officers will be allowed to manage all Covid-19 patients, from stage one to five of disease, and are eligible for the monthly RM600 special Covid-19 allowance. They are also still eligible to get their flexi monthly allowance of RM700.

Besides that, the guideline stated that house officers will be asked to work an average of 60 to 62 hours a week and not exceeding 14 hours continuously. They are also not allowed to be on double duty on the same day and are eligible for one off day per week.

If any of the housemen are quarantined during this period, their quarantine leave will not be deducted from their existing leave.

Dr Noor Hisham, in his letter, stated that a discussion about this was held during a Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre (CPRC) meeting on January 4 that was chaired by Health Minister Dr Adham Baba.

CodeBlue reported yesterday that Sungai Buloh Hospital — Malaysia’s main Covid-19 hospital located in Selangor — is so understaffed that only up to two doctors and three nurses per ward care for more than 30 ill Covid-19 patients in stages three to four.

The Health DG said Tuesday that severe Covid-19 cases (stage four and five) have multiplied by five times to comprise 15 per cent of daily infections during the third wave of the Malaysian epidemic compared to the second wave.

Five Selangor Hospitals Become Covid-19 Hybrid Hospitals

In another circular sighted by CodeBlue from the Selangor state health department (JKNS) dated January 13, five hospitals in Selangor have been told to convert to Covid-19 hybrid hospitals, effective January 14.

The five MOH hospitals are Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Klang Hospital, Selayang Hospital, Serdang Hospital, Ampang Hospital, and Shah Alam Hospital.

“This decision was made considering these specialist hospitals have the capacity to help in treating Covid-19 patients because the full Covid-19 hospital has reached its maximum capacity in accepting and treating Covid-19 patients,” JKNS said in their letter.

Meanwhile, Kajang Hospital and Banting Hospital will remain as non-Covid hospitals to treat non-coronavirus patients.

JKNS said that this announcement was made following the rise in daily Covid-19 cases continuously in Selangor, which has also led to a rise in the number of patients in the intensive care unit and requiring ventilation not only in full Covid-19 hospitals, but also in other specialist hospitals.

Infectious disease consultant Dr Suresh Kumar from Sungai Buloh Hospital told a webinar last week that every week, he has to open a new 28-bedded ward to accommodate the rising number of Covid-19 patients. He also said that the proportion of stage four and five patients — who have the most severe disease — in Sungai Buloh Hospital has gone up compared to last year.

On January 19, Dr Noor Hisham told a press conference that MOH has added 539 beds for Covid-19 patients in 14 additional public hospitals throughout the country.

In Selangor, two hospitals were listed by MOH — Serdang Hospital which will allocate 108 beds and Selayang Hospital which will allocate 56 beds.

However, the Health director-general did not mention Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Klang Hospital, Ampang Hospital, and Shah Alam Hospital being converted into Covid-19 hybrid hospitals, as mentioned in the circular sighted by CodeBlue.

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