Shortage of hospital beds for Covid-19 patients worrisome

FILE PHOTO: Empty beds for Covid-19 patients are getting harder to find.

A shortage of hospital beds for Covid-19 patients is spreading throughout Thailand, as the Coronavirus surges through the country, and people are getting desperate to secure a bed for their loved ones. Even celebrities are posting on social media in an attempt to get a space in the rapidly filling hospitals. Government officials say there are enough beds for everyone with Covid-19 but not all beds are in luxury facilities. The National Health Security Office says a 700-person waiting list exists for Covid-19 infected patients to get a hospital bed. The NHSO performs daily check-ups and advice anyone needing help to call 1330 or the Department of Medical Services at 1668.

The president of the Private Hospital Association asserts that the shortage is not as dire as it seems, and a lot of the problem stems from how private hospitals are handling bed allocation. He claims that private hospitals didn’t make proper arrangements and are not referring Covid-19 infected patients out of their medical network in order to charge for treatment even though the government is paying for Covid-19 expenses.

Part of the problem is that hospitals are required to admit all patients as soon as they test positively for Coronavirus to avoid spreading. As a result, some private hospitals have stopped testing for Covid-19 when they don’t have beds to accommodate them.

25,000 extra beds have been requested by the government to beef up hospital capacity along with the quick building of makeshift field hospitals. The Health Minister encourages hospitals to partner with hotels in the recently launched “hospitel” program to handle patients and free up ICU beds for more severe Covid-19 infections.

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The Ministry of Public Health is considering self-treatment at home for patients who live alone when hospitals hit capacity. The Health Minister requested Friday a self-care guidebook be created by the Department of Medical Services designed for stay-at-home Covid-19 patients who may need to treat themselves. Asymptomatic patients will be the most likely to be assigned to self-care at home if they live alone and will not spread the virus.

The National Institute for Emergency Medicine and Erawan Medical Centre Bangkok of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration are working to create more beds and asking people to stay calm. They say Covid-19 beds are still available in Bangkok though numbers are limited. As of now, 9,183 beds exist in total with 4,244 still available, including new beds added to Bang Khun Thian Geriatric Hospital and field hospitals at Bangkok Arena and Chalerm Phrakiat Bang Bon Stadium.

In the meantime, even celebrities have found themselves scrambling to find hospital beds for Covid-19 infected friends and family. Star Chiang Mai United footballer Boworn Tapla contracted Covid-19 on April 12 and then later discovered his wife and 2 daughters also were infected. After being placed in a long queue by the hospital that diagnosed them, Boworn posted a plea for help on Instagram. After 4 days, they finally found beds for his family at Queen Sirikit National Institute of Child Health in Bangkok, and yesterday Chiang Mai United management and the chairman of Chiang Mai provincial administrative organisation.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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