Health department denies mishandling patient

Dr Chin Zin Hing

KUCHING: The State Health Department has denied allegations of mishandling a Covid-19 patient prior to her death in Sibu Hospital on Jan 22.

The department’s director, Dr Chin Zin Hing, in a statement on Tuesday (Jan 26), assured that the patient had received treatment for her underlying condition between the time when she was screened via rT-PCR swab test on Jan 16 to the date of the rt-PCR result before she passed away on Jan 22 because of comorbidity.

“The health department has taken the necessary steps while adhering to the potential risk of Covid-19 when treating the patient.

“It is our sole duty and responsibility as medical professionals to care about our patients and have their best interest in mind,” he explained.

He was alluding to the allegations made by Dr Gabriel Walter which was published by a local online news portal titled ‘Gross misreporting of total Covid-19 patients warded in Sibu Hospital.’

In the letter, the writer indicated that he was seeking justice for the deceased and pointed to the health department for not giving medical attention to the Covid-19 patient. He also called for accurate statistics reporting and asked for clarification on the number of patients warded in Sibu Hospital and Low Risk Treatment Centres (PKRCs).  

“While we understand that there is a need for transparency, Dr Gabriel has also demanded for images of ‘filled up PKRC’ which is uncalled for,” said Dr Chin.

“Indeed, while the reporting may have its weaknesses, we note the discrepancies.  The beds allocated to Covid-19 patients include the beds in PKRC and designated hospitals,” he explained.

Chin assured that the department was working around the clock and had coordinated and made necessary arrangements to ensure that there were enough beds to isolate Covid-19 patients.

“The SDMC (State Disaster Management Committee) has also been working on upgrading healthcare facilities and expanding bed availability in facilities throughout Sarawak as a preparedness measure,” he added.

He said the department acknowledged there had been a delay in result turnover time in  past weeks. This was due to the increasing number of active case detection (ACD) and contact tracing (CT) operations implemented to trace, screen and isolate Covid-19 patients.

“This is evident as a number of clusters emerged all over Sarawak, namely in Sibu and Miri divisions.

“Due to the sudden spike in clusters and number of samples taken, the health department has cut off time in report preparation every day for its reporting.

“The inconsistencies of figures depended on the time the data was ready for release. As the number of positive cases increases in a number of districts, it has been challenging for the daily report to reflect the real time conditions of admissions and discharge of patients,” clarified Dr Chin.

“The health department would like to apologise for any misunderstanding or misinformation that would have caused the public to have mistrust and panic due to the daily data reported,” he added.