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Heartbreaking: 'Wards full due to Covid, patients being turned away'
Published on: Thursday, September 02, 2021
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Heartbreaking: 'Wards full due to Covid, patients being turned away'
Photo: Bernama
Kota Kinabalu: Some Sabah doctors have shared heartbreaking stories about turning away patients because of crammed wards caused by the Covid-19 surge in the state.

Hospitals are unable to cope with the staggering numbers of patients, some wards are tripling their normal capacity and doctors are forced to prioritise who gets the limited ventilation support, according to the Malay Mail.

“The standing order is to prioritise younger patients. Sometimes we have someone in their 60s come in with no previous major health problems versus a patient in their 30s... and we have to choose, even if the 60-year-old has a good chance of recovery,” a Queen Elizabeth Hospital doctor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told the news site.

“We have no choice. Resources are limited and we are forced to make decisions like these. It’s heartbreaking to have to tell the patient’s families that there is nothing much we can do.”

Patients referred from other districts have also begun to be turned away because wards are full, said another doctor.

“We sometimes get referrals from hospitals in nearby districts but we have to turn away patients or withhold their transfer. These are patients who are currently being hospitalised in district hospitals but now require specialised care which only we can provide,” the physician said.

“But even though we are at maximum capacity, we will still try to find whatever tiny space to cram people in and give them oxygen support. We have patients sitting in corridors with oxygen tanks.

“The emergency department ICU cubicles are meant for one patient each but we have crammed three patients in. There are camp beds everywhere, literally, any space we can use.”

Official data indicated that roughly 85 percent of some 1,571 Covid-designated beds have been taken up all over the state.

But this is not the case as major district hospitals’ Covid wards are overflowing with patients, another doctor told the Malay Mail.

“So many patients are still waiting to be admitted. There is a huge backlog for the ED (emergency department),” revealed the doctor.

“Some even remain in ED for more than five days for bed availability in the ward. Every time my nurses call the ward for admission, their response is always ‘ward full, call back later.”

“If they do have enough ventilators, then we wouldn’t have to constantly make decisions on who gets ventilators, based on age group.

“Some patients really should be brought in for close observation or care, but there’s just no space in hospitals or PKRCs ( Low-Risk Covid-19 Quarantine and Treatment Centres).”

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