PETALING JAYA: It has been a year and a half since the Covid-19 pandemic breached Malaysian shores and for one particular hospital, it has been an exhausting battle with no end in sight.
Sungai Buloh Hospital, also known as the Covid Hospital of Malaysia, has been at the forefront of the nation’s war against the pandemic.
And the tireless general leading the battle is none other than Dr Kuldip Kaur, director of Sungai Buloh Hospital, who told FMT recently that this is a battle that no one could have foreseen.
“We had never imagined that we would live to witness such a life-changing event unfold before our very eyes, an experience that has been fraught with ups and downs,” she confessed, adding that the hospital had no choice but to learn and adapt quickly — which meant a total overhaul of the hospital’s entire system.
When the first wave of Covid-19 broke out, the biggest challenge was to prepare and revamp the hospital to best suit the needs of infected patients.
This meant scaling down on existing services, decanting non-Covid-19 patients to other hospitals, and streamlining the hospital’s organisational structure and chain of command.
“The main strategy was to plan and manage our hospital’s Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre (CPRC) to relay information and data between the various hospitals, Selangor State Health Department, and the Ministry of Health,” said Dr Kuldip, adding that they also had to deal with a lot of uncertainties regarding the novel virus.
Just as the hospital had transitioned into a working routine, they were once again bombarded by an influx of Covid-19 patients due to the second wave and initial stages of the third wave.
To mitigate the issue, more wards were opened, with the adjacent National Leprosy Control Centre (PKKN) housing 252 beds, while the Ministry of Health Training Institute (ILKKM) was repurposed with 2,400 beds.
What’s more, Sungai Buloh Hospital opened its doors to all kinds of patients including detainees and undocumented immigrant (PATI) patients.
Despite being overwhelmed, the good doctor was assured by the fact that most of the Covid-19 patients in Sungai Buloh Hospital comprised mainly Category One and Category Two cases.
However, the Covid-19 cases today tell a different story.
“Currently, we are in a significantly higher state of emergency. We have increased our critical care capacity from 60 to 104 beds as most of our current patients are Category Four and Category Five cases who need constant oxygen support.”
Needless to say, Dr Kuldip is not only focused on the health of the patients, but is also mindful about the hospital’s staff.
“Human resource is our greatest asset and also our greatest challenge. While we strive to keep our staff motivated and in good spirits, their morale continues to be sorely tested as the pandemic worsens.”
She explained that the hospital’s administration implemented several initiatives to help them cope and boost the frontliners’ morale. This included a Psychological First Aid (PFA) team to care for their psychological needs.
As Malaysia’s Covid-19 infection rate continues to blow through the roof, particularly in the Klang Valley, Dr Kuldip believes that the surge is down to irresponsible Malaysians who have flouted SOPs and are taking the pandemic too lightly.
“It is all up to the individual. Kita jaga Kita,” exclaimed Dr Kuldip as she urged the public to follow SOPs so that they can do their part to help hundreds of battle-worn frontliners.
“Covid-19 is a real and present threat which is why you must not let your guard down, even with your own friends and family. Herd immunity is the solution to this crisis, so please sign up for the vaccination programme.”
“If you really love your friends and family members, and if you want to keep them safe, please refrain from crossing borders unnecessarily. Please make this small sacrifice. We must break the chain of infection, and we can only do this if we are united, together as a nation.”