KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 30 — The Sarawak state health department (JKNS) today denied manipulating hospital bed utilisation data in Sibu Hospital, as alleged by a doctor who highlighted overwhelming Covid-19 cases in the facility.
JKNS director Dr Mohamed Sapian Mohamed, in a statement today, said it was “100 per cent not true” that Sibu Hospital’s bed capacity denominator was manipulated to prevent the public from knowing that bed utilisation had gone well over capacity.
“During the period of high increase in admissions of Covid-19 cases, the hospital management had already increased the number of beds for the treatment of Covid-19 patients according to its current needs during the period.
“Despite the addition of beds, the monthly bed occupancy rate (BOR) remained above 100 per cent. The reduction in the number of Covid-19 beds during the pandemic was low.
“The acquisition of the data is dynamic, i.e. there will be fluctuations in the number of beds for Covid-19 treatment based on current needs, thus, the denominator of the total bed capacity will also change from time to time,” Dr Mohamed Sapian said.
JKNS’ statement was issued in response to an anonymous doctor in Sibu Hospital, who wrote to CodeBlue about alleged BOR data manipulation by health authorities; staff shortage at the public hospital; insufficient hospital and intensive care unit (ICU) beds, including manpower needed in ICU; Covid-19 patients stranded for hours in the emergency department; insufficient oxygen ports for sick coronavirus cases; and deferred surgeries that led to the deaths of some patients with end-stage renal disease or cancer.
The anonymous Sibu Hospital doctor accused “top management” of manipulating the denominator of bed capacities, thus leading to below 100 per cent BOR on paper instead of over-capacity in reality.
The doctor said that a single ward, which was meant to admit 20 to 30 patients, is currently being forced to accept up to 40 to 50 patients. Data manipulation of ICU utilisation in Sarawak was also happening, the doctor alleged.
JKNS said the average patient admission to Covid-19 ward per day this month was 89 patients, with an average discharge rate of 118 patients.
It said a total of 275 active cases are being treated in Sibu Hospital’s Covid-19 ward as of September 30, including 147 Category Two, Three, Four, and Five coronavirus patients.
The total number of beds in Sibu Hospital is 642 beds and there are still vacancies for 157 beds to accommodate new patients, it added.
Dr Mohamed Sapian further announced that the Ministry of Health (MOH) will deploy 52 trained contract nurses, along with 10 medical officers, from peninsular Malaysia to Sibu Hospital from October 5 to December 24.
He also said RM2.3 million has been used by Sibu Hospital to decant 832 procedures involving orthopaedics, general surgery, ophthalmology, otorhinolaryngology, obstetrics and gynaecology, and radiology to the private sector.
“In fact, Sibu Hospital has just received an additional allocation of RM600,000 on 27 September 2021 for outsourcing purposes in efforts to reduce the burden on managing non-Covid patients in Sibu Hospital.”
Dr Mohamed Sapian pointed out that JKNS not only provided additional hospital beds, MOH had also allocated over RM12 million to the hospital for the procurement of medical equipment and the decanting of 832 non-Covid cases involving orthopedics, general surgery, ophthalmology, otorhinolaryngology, obstetrics, gynecology, and radiology.
The health equipment purchased for Sibu Hospital included five oxygen concentrators and 26 ventilators from the MOH.
Additionally, Sibu Hospital received donated equipment in the form of nine units of ventilators from Pharmaniaga Bhd, eight ventilators from Petronas Foundation, four ventilators from the Chinese government, one from the Brunei government, as well as five oxygen concentrators and five BiPAP machines from the Temasek Foundation International.
Meanwhile, on claims of Sibu Hospital facing a shortage of oxygen ports for Covid-19 patients, Dr Mohamed Sapian said that the hospital is equipped with the vacuum insulated evaporator (VIE) system that has a 20,000 liter oxygen capacity that is capable of fulfilling the hospital’s oxygen needs in its wards.
He added that Sibu Hospital has 296 oxygen cylinders as well as 76 rented oxygen cylinders and will soon receive 60 additional large oxygen cylinders from MOH.
On claims of active Covid-19 cases among Sibu Hospital staff, Dr Mohamed Sapian said an investigation report by the management of Sibu Hospital showed that the majority of 53 active Covid-19 cases among its staff were infected through the community.
Efforts taken to curb outbreaks in the hospital include limiting the use of the dining pantry space, mandating the use of face masks during ward patrols, emphasising the practice of self-cleaning (hand washing) and performing sanitation activities on a regular basis.
On claims that hospital staff leave were frozen, Dr Mohamed Sapian said although staff leave had to be frozen in the interest of the service, flexibility on staff leave will be given in the event of emergencies involving family members, such as medical matters and deaths.
“In fact, staff leave is also considered for employees who suffer from fatigue or lethargy and are unhealthy to ensure their welfare,” he added.