Help the poor by taking in more Covid-19 cases, Penang tells private hospitals

·3-min read
Penang state exco Norlela Ariffin (third right) and Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar along with other VIPs looking at the call centre operating procedure during the launch of the Covid-19 Emergency Careline at Dewan Pintar, Guar Perahu, September 9, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Penang state exco Norlela Ariffin (third right) and Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar along with other VIPs looking at the call centre operating procedure during the launch of the Covid-19 Emergency Careline at Dewan Pintar, Guar Perahu, September 9, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

SEBERANG PERAI, Sept 9 — Penang state exco Norlela Ariffin has called on private hospitals here to do their part for the society by taking in Covid-19 patients who are above category three and do not have health insurance or could not afford the medical bills.

The state health committee chairman said she has spoken to the private hospitals in the state and although they have an ample supply of oxygen beds, the private hospitals are only taking in category one and two Covid-19 patients.

“The private hospitals must come in to help and take in category three and above patients too and consider doing a public service when it comes to poor patients who could not afford it or do not have health insurance,” she said in a press conference today.

She said private hospitals should be doing something for Covid-19 patients in the B40 group.

Alternatively, she suggested that the private hospitals provide oxygen beds for Covid-19 patients.

“We only need one private hospital to do this, we just need the oxygen beds for another one to two months before we reach higher vaccination rates and the cases will decrease by then,” she said.

She said if the Emergency Ordinance was still in place, the state will be able to gain access to 30 per cent of the oxygen beds in private hospitals to treat Covid-19 patients.

“We need at least 1,500 oxygen beds to be able to handle the increasing number of Covid-19 patients in the state,” she said.

She said maybe the government should look at how they can make use of the requirements under the Emergency Ordinance to compel private hospitals to let the government use their oxygen beds for Covid-19 patients.

She said another way is to turn the government hospitals in the state into fully Covid-19 hospitals and to get more supplies of oxygen concentrators to treat Covid-19 patients.

“This way, the government hospitals can fully concentrate on Covid-19 patients while non-Covid cases will be referred to private hospitals for treatment and the bills will be footed by the health ministry,” she said.

She confirmed that a group of surgeons in the Penang General Hospital had submitted a memorandum on the overcrowding issue in the hospital and the lack of facilities for the hybrid hospital which is still taking in non-Covid patients.

Currently, Norlela said about 150 Covid-19 patients are admitted into government hospitals every day who may need oxygen beds.

On the availability of intensive care unit (ICU) beds in Penang government hospitals, she said there are only 93 ICU beds in four government hospitals in the state.

“The ICU beds have increased as some of the hospitals have expanded their wards but most of the ICU wards are fully occupied now,” she said.

Even the Covid-19 wards are filling up as the take-up rates are between 77 per cent and 91 per cent.

She said the state health department and the state government will discuss further with Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin on what the state needs to manage the increasing number of cases when he visits this Saturday.

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