KUCHING: A parking area at the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) will be converted into a permanent hybrid intensive care unit (ICU) for COVID-19 patients so that the main hospital can operate in its normal manner.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said works would start in February, providing the hospital with an additional 10 ICU beds.
“This will increase our number of ICU beds in case there is a need for COVID-19 patients later on,” said the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) chairman after a visit to SGH here on Wednesday (Jan 26).
He said the state government had also agreed to assist in installing a gas pipe at the Sarawak Youth and Sports Complex (KBS) to provide for another 40 beds there, adding that approximately RM500,000 would be required for the purpose.
He said all these efforts were to prepare for the worst. Nevertheless, he noted that the number of daily COVID-19 cases in Sarawak had decreased recently and hoped that this trend would continue.
Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian said the new hybrid ICU for COVID-19 patients would help to keep the main hospital free.
“This is so that the main hospital can continue to operate as normal. Last year, it could not do so as it was used mostly for COVID-19,” he said adding that he was made to understand by the SGH director that the hospital was almost back to normal.
“During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of hospital beds were used for COVID-19 patients while other usual operations were postponed, so going back to normal means that the other operations are back to normal.
“This is because the number of COVID-19 patients presently is only a handful and the number of beds used for these patients is also reduced.
“At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were more than 70 ICU beds (allocated for COVID-19 patients), whereas at the moment it is less than a handful,” said Dr Sim, who is also Public Health, Housing and Local Government Minister and SDMC advisor.
He said there was currently no point to keep the other ICU beds specifically for COVID-19 patients as this would deprive other regular patients, like those who needed to undergo surgery, from using the beds.
“This means that we are flexible. In addition, at the height of the pandemic, when there were not enough facilities, the state government funded these facilities,” he said.
On another matter, Uggah said various field hospitals in the state had been closed due to the low number of COVID-19 cases lately.
Nevertheless, he said, there was one such facility in Sibu.
“It is already completed. We will keep it in the meantime.”