If the number of patients needing ICU care continues to rise, patients at government hospitals may soon need to be transferred to private hospitals, or even to hospitals outside Phuket, Dr Chalermpong said.
Dr Chalermpong revealed the news during a live broadcast at Vachira Phuket Hospital yesterday evening (May 9), joined by Phuket Vice Governor Piyapong Choowong.
Dr Chalermpong explained that the number of beds available in Phuket for general care of people confirmed infected with COVID-19 during the current outbreak was not a concern.
“The number of beds being used in hospitals is high, while the number of beds being used at the field hospital is not very high,” he said.
In first raising the alarm over a possible shortage of ICU beds in Phuket last week, Dr Withita Jaeng-iam, an epidemiologist at Vachira Phuket Hospital, explained, “In Phuket, 50% of the [confirmed] cases do not have any symptoms, 30% have light symptoms of pneumonia.”
However, Dr Withita also noted, “...and 10% have severe symptoms. That means we need a lot of breathing apparatuses [to treat patients].”
Of the patients in care at Vachira hospital, the main government hospital on the island, Dr Withita noted last week, “About 50% of the cases have symptoms of pneumonia for which patients need breathing apparatus.”
Dr Chalermpong yesterday further explained that patients considered PUI (person under investigation, for possible COVID infection) have separate rooms where they wait for the results of their swab tests.
“There are about 280 rooms for PUI cases in all hospitals, but not all of the rooms are proper negative pressure rooms for COVID-19 infected cases,” he said.
But of those who do suffer symptoms of infection, suffer serious symptoms, Dr Chalermpong noted.
“In this outbreak, most of the infected cases [being treated] in hospital have severe symptoms, as the virus moves to their lungs. They need to receive close observation and treatment in hospitals,” Dr Chalermpong said.
“Currently, the infected cases [at government hospitals] have severe symptoms, so we cannot let them stay at the field hospital at PSU [Prince of Songkla University Phuket campus in Kathu].
“There are 170 beds there, but we have never used over 100 beds,” he said.
A second field hospital has been set up at the Phuket Rajabhat University (PRU) campus in Rassada, north of Phuket Town, but the number of people in care at the PSU field hospital has not yet reached a level for health officials to start using the field hospital set up at PRU.
“This kind of incident is happening in many provinces, like Bangkok, Samut Sakhon, Samut Prakan, Songkhla and Surat Thani,” Dr Chalermpong said.
“Vachira Phuket Hospital has nine ICU rooms. Only five of the nine rooms are negative-pressure rooms for severe-symptom cases, while the remaining four are now used for cases with light symptoms under close observation,” he explained.
“For now, the five cases in our five negative-pressure rooms have very bad symptoms, while the symptoms of the four cases are still stable and under consideration to be moved out of the rooms,” he added.
“If the nine rooms are full of severe symptom cases, that will be a big critical stage. We may need to transfer our patients to other provinces or private hospitals, which may involve additional costs,” Dr Chalermpong said.
“We have only a small gap to reach the critical stage,” he warned.
“In these two weeks, I want to ask every person to avoid gathering for any activities,” Dr Chalermpong urged.
“One more thing is that please register to get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity and to reduce the chance for you to have severe symptoms if you are infected,” he said.
“We will have 100,000 doses of Sinovac coming in the middle of this month and another 100,000 doses in the beginning of June,” Dr Chalermpong explained.
“In June, we will receive 240,000 doses of AstraZeneca,” he said.