|Patients register for health checks at Binh Tan Hospital in HCM City's Binh Tan District. By opening a satellite ward, the hospital saw a drop in patients being transferred to big hospitals. — VNA/VNS Photo Manh Linh
by Gia Loc
HCM CITY (VNS)— A few months ago, two-year-old Nguyen Tran Gia Huy, who had begun vomiting in the middle of the night, was taken to a new paediatric ward at Tan Phu District Hospital.
The doctor at the ward diagnosed gastrointestinal problems, gave his parents some medication, and asked them to monitor his situation.
His mother, Tran Thi Gia Linh, was pleasantly surprised at the service, which stood in stark contrast to what she had normally experienced at big city hospitals.
"The doctors and nurses were friendly and enthusiastic, and they took time to counsel us on nutrition and daily care," Linh said.
Better services were the result of a co-operation effort between the hospital and the HCM City Paediatric Hospital No.1, which helped improve an existing paediatric ward.
The aim of the cooperation was to offer better care to patients who often have to travel to the city's large, and frequently overcrowded, paediatric hospitals.
At the larger hospitals, Linh said that she and her family are often received by "grouchy doctors and nurses".
"I'm also tired of waiting at the city's paediatric hospitals. It takes too long," she added.
At Tan Phu District Hospital, the wait was reasonable, she said.
Since its opening, the "satellite" paediatric ward at Tan Phu District Hospital has admitted 15,328 children, more than 10 times higher than the same period last year.
Likewise, the Binh Tan District Hospital, which also has a satellite ward, has seen a rise in children's admissions and a 5.3 per cent drop in patients being transferred to big city hospitals.
Rural districts like Nha Be, Can Gio and Binh Chanh were now receiving better healthcare because of these newly improved wards, said Nguyen Tan Binh, head of the city's Department of Health, at the workshop held in HCM City earlier this month.
Binh said doctors at various satellite wards and clinics have received additional training and were now able to perform procedures often only conducted at bigger city hospitals.
Previously, doctors at Can Gio District Hospital, for example, could not perform Caesarean or appendix operations. The hospital often had to transfer patients to Nguyen Tri Phuong Hospital and Hung Vuong Hospital in District 5.
More clinics and wards
Under the Department of Health's direction, Can Gio District Hospital opened satellite speciality clinics in May last year.
The clinics were opened with the help of major city hospitals, including Nguyen Tri Phuong, Hung Vuong, Ear, Nose and Throat, and Odonto-Maxillo-Facial Hospital.
Over the last year, 18 Caesarean and appendicitis surgeries have been performed. The number of pregnant women transferred to Hung Vuong Hospital has fallen by 40 per cent.
With the help of Hung Vuong Hospital, the satellite ward has also offered surgery on ovarian cysts. More than 5,700 patients with various illnesses were seen in the last four months of 2012.
Patients from neighbouring Long An and Ba Ria-Vung Tau provinces are also visiting the clinic for treatment.
In the first quarter of this year, 12 out of 23 district hospitals in HCM City have set up 40 satellite clinics that receive technical assistance from 17 city hospitals, according to the Department of Health.
Since that time, the satellite clinics have treated a total of 190,020 patients and performed surgery on 1,427 patients.
In addition, the City Trauma and Orthopaediatrics Hospital has set up two satellite wards in Tan Phu District Hospital and An Binh Hospital. The trauma hospital is also upgrading rooms to set up a 100-bed satellite ward in Sai Gon General Hospital.
This month, the HCM City Department of Health has asked district people's committees to raise funds to invest in medical equipment for district hospitals, including facilities for emergency poison-control wards.
At a workshop held last week in HCM City, district hospitals told city authorities that they were financially strapped.
Doctors at Tan Phu District Hospital were trained by the city's Trauma and Orthopaedics Hospital, but they do not have sufficient equipment to operate.
When the surgery room opens, it will be able to take patients with trauma or tumours who previously were transferred to the HCM City Oncology Hospital and the City Trauma and Orthopaedics Hospital.
For now, the ward is only receiving patients from the Trauma and Orthopaedics Hospital for physical therapy and rehabilitation.
Nguyen Tan Binh, head of the Department of Health, has asked Tan Phu District Hospital to draw up a list of equipment to submit to its People's Committee so that it could raise funds.
Besides Tan Phu, satellite clinics at several other hospitals have not opened.
Hospitals in Districts 7 and 9, for example, have yet to offer training courses taught by specialists at city hospital, including Oncology, Paediatrics No. 2, Nguyen Trai and Binh Dan, Tu Du Obstetrics, Eye, Paediatrics No. 1 and Ear Nose and Throat.—VNS