Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Sarawak General Hospital badly overcrowded

I posted an entry about medical quandary of Malaysia 2 days ago and today, Dr Raja Lope Admad Raja Ariffin the director of Sarawak General Hospital revealed that SGH is overcrowded.

For information, SGH has a capacity of 800-beds and is located in Kuching with about 630,000 residents. That's 1 bed for every 787 residents. If a serious epidemic strike Kuching, half of the population would be dead.

And due to overcrowded of government hospitals, patients sometime have no choice but to seek treatment at private hospitals or clinics and be prepare to be slaughter by the private doctors, because the charges will be very high. Either you queue very long at the public hospitals for your panadol or prepare to hutang from Ah Long to cover your medical expenses at those private hospital.

So, while the rakyat suffered lack of medical benefit (or costly medical fees), Najib happily send Dr SMS to space for vacation and the Malaysia Royal Malay Regiment to London for free tour.

And what about our Minister of Health ? Oh, he is busy deciding whether to change all the medicine name to Bahasa Malaysia name.

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Extracted from: (Apr 17, 2008)

SGH badly overcrowded

By Yu Ji

Almost all wards are packed with more patients than they are made to accommodate

KUCHING: Overcrowding at Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) here is getting worse by the day.

Its director Dr Raja Lope Admad Raja Ariffin alluded to the seriousness of the problem during a briefing for a contingent of visiting police officers to the hospital yesterday.

“The hospital is very crowded, especially with the renovation work now on. After this, we hope to commence the construction of a multi-storey carpark. Even I have to go around the hospital two or three times everyday to find a (parking) spot,” Dr Lope said without elaborating.

It is learned from reliable sources that SGH is sending more than 50 patients to peripheral hospitals close by due to massive overcrowding at the wards.

The 800-bed general hospital has been referring about 20 bone fracture patients to the Rajah Charles Brooke Memorial Hospital and 15 post-surgery patients to the former nurses’ training centre, opposite the hospital.

In late January, it was reported that 25 patients were also sent to recuperate at Sentosa Hospital, a practice that continues until today.

About 30 SGH staff including, doctors, nurses and cooks, have been assigned on a rotation basis to these ‘external’ wards, a source revealed yesterday.

The hospital’s contingency plan also calls for third-class patients to be admitted into first class wards.

It is also understood that almost all wards are packed with more patients than they are made to accommodate.

SGH remains the only public hospital serving some 630,000 Kuching residents.

It also acts as a referral hospital for advance medicine like cardiovascular diseases, cancer and even plastic surgery. (Most of these services are not available at any other public hospitals in East Malaysia.)

Furthermore, SGH also receives a reasonable amount of full-fee paying Indonesian patients, especially for radiotherapy cancer treatment.

As a result, the problem of overcrowding has been an issue for many years.

Other setbacks include the lack of parking spaces, and the hospital being understaffed.

With the on-going refurbishment work, expected to take for at least another year, the problems have been greatly aggravated.

Last year the chairman of Malaysia Medical Association Sarawak Prof Dr Sim Kui Hean described the lack of hospital beds as an ‘urgent’ crisis.

“These situations cause great stress to patients, doctors and nurses,” Dr Sim was quoted as saying.

The SGH is not even equipped with a dedicated High Dependency Unit. It only has space for nine Intensive Care beds even though there are actually 13 ICU beds and equipment available.

Another insider revealed: “All ICU patients who cannot be admitted here are transferred to private hospitals in Kuching. The SGH however has to bear the full cost.”

It is estimated that the Health Department spends about RM300 million annually to keep the hospital in operation.

It is manned by more than 3,000 personnel, about 500 of whom are doctors and specialists.

More than 30 babies are delivered at SGH everyday while its outpatient clinic sees more than 1,000 patients daily.

Referred patients also come from all over the state, and also from as far as Sabah and Kalimantan (Indonesia).

Since early last year, there have been talks about building a second general hospital in Kuching.

It seems very likely that the hospital could be sited in Petra Jaya.

One of the interesting points said about the decades-old SGH is that it could not have more hospital beds even after the renovation is completed.

The site is simply not big enough for expansion.

What appears to be the last strip of land left within the hospital compound will be turned into the country’s first centre for clinical trials.

However, progress on the second general hospital appears to have stalled.

Another source yesterday confirmed the slow development, but added that the Health Ministry had been informed of this on many occasions since a year ago.

What might be happening now is that there could be a proposal being drafted, which would then be submitted to the federal government for approval and to the Economic Planning Unit for the necessary funds.

The matter has not gone unnoticed by some local politicians.

Prior to the March 8 poll, Santubong Member of Parliament Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said he would meet with the Health Minister to press for a second general hospital.

Alan Sim the defeated Bandar Kuching BN candidate even included building a second general hospital in his campaign promises, which was publicised in local newspapers.


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