A severely ill COVID patient is treated at the COVID Resuscitation Hospital in Thủ Đức City. Photo courtesy of the hospital
HCM CITY — The HCM City Department of Health plans to gradually reduce the number of concentrated isolation areas and medical facilities for COVID treatment, and resume normal operation of hospitals which were previously designated to only treat COVID patients.
According to the department, a number of hospitals are now ready to resume normal operation as the pandemic situation has improved. The hospitals will be thoroughly disinfected after COVID treatment ends.
Since September 22, three general hospitals in District 7 and Cần Giờ and Củ Chi districts, considered “safe areas”, have resumed normal operation.
“The hospitals no longer treat COVID-19 patients, but they maintain 10-20 beds for isolation purposes in case of suspected COVID cases, and have an oxygen system to promptly resuscitate critically ill patients who will be transferred to a hospital for COVID-19 treatment,” said Dr. Nguyễn Văn Vĩnh Châu, deputy director of the city's Department of Health.
The Hospital for Tropical Diseases has reopened outpatient services for HIV patients. The HCM City Children’s Hospital has also resumed operation of the surgery unit and children’s vaccination unit. The Gò Vấp District Health Centre has retarted immunisation activities for children.
Dr Trần Văn Sóng, deputy director of HCM City-based People’s Hospital 115, said the hospital had built a new treatment area separate from the hospital with modern infrastructure and equipment for COVID treatment, while providing treatment for other diseases.
Dr. Phan Văn Báu, director of People’s Hospital 115, said the hospital has set up 500 resuscitation beds. In addition to COVID-19 treatment, it also treats common ailments as well as patients who require dialysis, kidney transplant, and peritoneal dialysis (around 300-400 patients a day).
In addition, the hospital receives an average of 500 patients for check-ups and treatment of other diseases each day.
Dr. Nguyễn Thành Tâm, head of General Planning Department of field hospital No 1, said it is currently treating about COVID 2,700 patients. Around 80 per cent of the COVID patients at the hospital are eligible for discharge.
The field hospital is expected to stop operation in two to three weeks as part of the city’s plan to gradually reduce the number of field hospitals.
At the HCM City University of Medicine and Pharmacy, all medical examination and treatment activities have been carried out normally, with the COVID-19 treatment area arranged separately from other examination and treatment areas.
Nguyễn Thị Huỳnh Mai, chief of Office of the city's Department of Health, said the city has a total of 90 COVID-19 treatment facilities classified in three levels by the Ministry of Health (from mild to severe to critically ill cases).
The first level has 12 facilities, including isolation and treatment areas for COVID-19 across city districts. The second level has 68 hospitals in the city. The third level has 10 treatment facilities, including five ICUs under management of central-level hospitals.
According to statistics from the Department of Health, the city has 3,826 emergency resuscitation beds with modern equipment, ensuring capacity to treat severe COVID cases.
The health sector has also transferred patients whose symptoms became worse to second or third-level treatment facilities in a timely manner.
“One of the health sector’s aims is not only to treat COVID-19 but to ensure the health of all patients,” she noted.
Some people in the city have delayed medical visits for fear of COVID-19 infection at hospitals. The number of medical visits has fallen by 40 to 60 per cent compared to normal. As a result, many patients have become seriously ill because they were not treated in time.
In the past week, when Thủ Đức City Hospital started accepting other patients, doctors discovered many critically ill cases due to delayed medical examinations. Many of them were using old prescriptions to buy medicine at pharmacies instead of making medical visits.
According to the Ministry of Health, during the outbreak, people who make a medical visit at hospitals are required to take a rapid antigen test at VNĐ238,000-350,000 per person. For inpatients, RT-PCR tests must be conducted before admission at VNĐ735,000 per person.
During inpatient treatment, patients and their caregivers must take RT-PCR tests every seven days, which has created pressure on patients in difficult financial circumstances.
HCM City, the country’s pandemic hotspot, has recorded more than 360,000 cases since late April. — VNS