Private Hospitals Brace For Covid-19 Surge Overwhelming Sarawak

APHM private hospitals prepare to accept Covid-19 cases in Sarawak, expecting severely ill patients in public hospitals’ ICUs and wards to soon exceed capacity.

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 22 — The Association of Private Hospitals Malaysia (APHM) has told member hospitals in Sarawak, mainly in Kuching, to assist the government in managing the rising number of Covid-19 patients that may soon overwhelm public hospitals. 

On September 21, Sarawak reported 3,732 Covid-19 new cases — the highest among states — bringing its cumulative total for the month to 70,573. The figure is nearly double the infections Sarawak recorded in August at 39,830 cases, and nearly six times the number of cases in July when the state reported 11,877 cases.

The daily percentage of Categories Four and Five patients remains in single digits, though APHM expects the active number of severely ill Covid-19 patients in intensive care units (ICUs) and wards to soon increase beyond the available space.

Data from the Ministry of Health (MOH), as of September 20, showed that Sarawak’s ICU bed occupancy rate for Covid-19 patients stood at a high 90 per cent — versus the national ICU bed occupancy rate of 75.2 per cent — while its non-ICU bed occupancy rate for Covid-19 cases was 85.05 per cent (national: 67.9 per cent).

APHM president Dr Kuljit Singh said one private hospital in Kuching, part of a conglomerate from West Malaysia, has agreed to accept self-paying Covid-19 patients within the coming week once retrofits and approvals have been obtained. 

“However, most private hospitals in Kuching have small bed capacity and their percentage of available beds and ICUs for Covid-19 is limited. The other private hospitals in the city of Kuching are in discussion to provide assistance if requested by the government,” Dr Kuljit said in a statement today.

“We hope more non-Covid patients from government hospitals can be decanted to the private hospitals in Kuching which will create space for Covid-19 patients to be treated in government facilities.”

Dr Kuljit highlighted that the decanting process had huge success in the Greater Klang Valley with 3,187 patients receiving care in private hospitals. There are currently about 1,000 beds available for future decanting, he said.

Penang has also decanted 69 patients, which began 10 days ago, and is now picking up speed. Private hospitals on the island have treated 1,325 Covid-19 self-paying patients since the start of the pandemic, Dr Kuljit said.

“We hope private hospitals in Kuching and other towns in Sarawak would be able to follow the efforts made by private hospitals in the peninsular both in treating self-paying Covid-19 and decanted non-Covid patients based on their existing capacity and capability. 

“MOH has been working closely with APHM since the beginning of this year and the public-private partnership has helped thousands of patients during this pandemic.”

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