HCM City to shut some COVID field hospitals as patient numbers dwindle amid home treatment

September 24, 2021 - 10:52

The HCM City Department of Health plans to reduce the number of COVID-19 quarantine and treatment facilities as the number of patients discharged and being treated at home is increasing.


Patients at field hospital No.1 in Thủ Đức City celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival. — VNA/VNS Photo Đinh Hằng

HCM CITY — The HCM City Department of Health plans to reduce the number of COVID-19 quarantine and treatment facilities as the number of patients discharged and being treated at home is increasing.

It will maintain the field hospitals in Củ Chi and Cần Giờ districts to treat slightly sick patients and integrate several field hospitals including Nos. 13, 14 and 16 with facilities set up to admit moderate and severe cases. 

But the existing infrastructure at facilities run by Bạch Mai, Việt Đức and Huế Central hospitals will not be dismantled and used again if the outbreak takes a turn for the worse again.

Quarantine facilities with 20-40 beds and oxygen systems in various districts and Thủ Đức City will also be maintained.

Deputy Minister of Health Nguyễn Trường Sơn told Tuổi Trẻ (Youth) newspaper that the city would have to revamp its COVID treatment system.

Field hospitals for instance could only be operated for short periods and are not a long-term option, and so they and intensive care centres in the city would be restructured soon, he said.

The Ministry of Health does not yet plan to recall medical workers dispatched to the city from northern provinces, but central-level hospitals plan to gradually withdraw their personnel after September 30.

Tăng Chí Thượng, head of the city health department, has approved a proposal to restore the Củ Chi Regional General Hospital and District 7 Hospital to their original function and admit non-COVID patients.

Following the start of the fourth wave in April, the two were used exclusively to treat people with COVID.

Reduction in admission of COVID patients

The field hospital in District 8, located in the cultural centre, currently admits a maximum of 10 COVID patients a day compared to 20-25 in the last few months.  

Field hospital No.1 at the Centre for National Defense and Security Training in Thủ Đức city currently admits 200-300 patients a day, down by half since the peak of the fourth wave in June.   

At the field hospital No.9 in Hóc Môn District the number is down from 600 to 300-400. 

Field hospital managers concur with the department’s plan to reduce the number.

COVID-19 patients at the September 18 field hospital No.1 in Thủ Đức City get a gift on the occasion of the Mid-Autumn Festival on September 21. VNA/VNS Photo Đinh Hằng

Dr Nguyễn Thành Tâm, head of general planning at field hospital No.1, agreed that hospitals with a low number of patients should be closed, adding their doctors, nurses and medical equipment such as beds with oxygen systems should be sent to remaining field hospitals to reduce the load on their personnel.

Dr Trần Văn Khanh, head of the Lê Văn Thịnh Hospital which manages field hospital No.3 in Thủ Đức city, said only hospitals still working to more than 60 per cent capacity should continue operating and the rest should be closed.  

The city has 93 facilities that treat COVID patients, including nearly 30 field hospitals with around 42,000 beds.

COVID patients treated at home

According to Trương Hữu Khanh, former head of the infectious and neurological diseases department at HCM City’s Children’s Hospital No.1, said treating COVID patients at home should get close attention when some of the field hospitals are closed.

Doctors and nurses at private clinics should be called on to provide remote consultancy to patients at home and also treat them when required, he said.

Patients at home account for more than 40 per cent of the total number of people with COVID, according to the department.

To ensure they get appropriate treatment, the city has set up more than 500 mobile medical stations with doctors mostly from the Military Medical Department.  

Community-based COVID patient care teams set up in each residential area assist with monitoring, testing and treating the patients. They also help with vaccinations in the locality.

Sơn said during the recent mass tests the city saw a drop in the number of people testing positive for the coronavirus. 

The number of severe cases and deaths has also decreased in the next few weeks. 

Vaccine for mental health

Twenty per cent of patients at the Thủ Đức City COVID-19 treatment hospital managed by Chợ Rẫy Hospital suffer from depression and other mental issues.

More than 53 per cent suffer from anxiety disorder and 16.7 per cent from stress.

The survey done by Chợ Rẫy Hospital found 67 per cent of them wanted counselling both during treatment and after being discharged.

To provide counselling to patients and others affected by the outbreak, the HCM City University of Social Sciences and Humanities and the Departments of Health and Information and Communications are organising a programme called ‘Vắc xin tinh thần’ (Vaccine for mental health). 

It provides emergency counselling for people with mental problems caused by the pandemic and helps them access national and city assistance policies. — VNS