Burnt Out, Overworked With Wave Of Sick Covid-19 Patients – Sibu Hospital Frontliners

Staff are constantly infected with Covid-19 and put under quarantine; one staff was recently involved in an accident on the way to work (unsure if this was due to work fatigue).

Every day, we are facing a huge number of Covid-19 patients presented at our hospital, which is congested with ill patients, that we are struggling to cope with.

Sibu Hospital is getting an average 300 Covid-19 cases daily, which leads to 3,000 cases in 10 days. We already hit maximum bed capacity despite strict admission criteria. Sibu Hospital has about 40 daily new Covid-19 admissions to ward, which means we need 400 Covid-19 beds for 10 days. But we only have some 200 beds in the intensive care unit (ICU) and in the Covid ward.

We are struggling with inpatient beds to care for these patients in our hospital. Hospital administrations have been requesting us to put these patients on extension beds. From a ward that usually holds 20 to 30 patients, we have been nursing up to 40 to 50 patients in a ward and keeping patients on canvas beds.

A lot of these patients are very ill and need very high setting of oxygen. This wave of ill patients (Categories 3-5) is even worse than before, and the number of ill patients is higher.

Despite the low numbers shown from the state authorities’ Covid-19 announcements, it is very hard for us on the ground to believe them as we continuously see ill patients admitted to our hospital every day. More and more patients are being stranded in emergency.

Because a lot of these Covid-19 patients are very ill and need a very high setting of oxygen, this requires a lot of care from the staff.

Our ICU seems to be full, and we are forced to nurse these ill patients in other wards. Due to the increasing workload, staff are asked to do overtime or extra shifts to cover for the extra manpower needed. As a result, staff are very burnt out and overworked.

One staff was recently involved in an accident which resulted in their car being overturned on the way to work. We are not sure if it could be due to work fatigue.

This is worsened by the fact that there are constantly staff who are infected by Covid-19 and have to be put under quarantine. It is very frustrating for us as the only way to cope with this is for remaining staff to do more overtime or shifts to cover for the loss of manpower.

No deployment and help seem to come to us, which leaves us helpless. Leave was recently frozen for staff again recently (we already lost count how many times our leave was frozen this year to make up for this).

Staff are constantly redeployed from our non-Covid area. Staff from the operation theatre and specialist clinic are being redeployed into the Covid team to cope with the increased workload.

This is really unfair to non-Covid patients, whose operations or clinic appointments have been postponed numerous times since January this year due to the Covid-19 situation. We feel hopeless and frustrated as these groups of neglected patients cannot receive the care they deserve, for example dialysis and cancer patients.

Due to the delay in seeking consultation, we note that some of these patients present with acute emergency at our emergency department (ED) due to complications that could treated earlier.

Whoever reads this, I hope someone with authority can do something before the entire health care system collapses.

This letter was written by a group of health care workers in Sibu Hospital. CodeBlue is publishing this letter anonymously because civil servants are not permitted to speak publicly without authorisation from their superiors.

  • This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.

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