JAKARTA: As fears of COVID-19 grow in Indonesia, some hospitals said they do not have sufficient medical equipment to deal with the situation should an outbreak occur.
Dr Edi Gunawan, the director of a regional public health facility Dr Zubir Mahmud Hospital in Indonesia’s westernmost province Aceh, told CNA that the hospital’s stock of surgical masks is depleting fast.
“We have asked our suppliers for masks, but they apologised and said they also do not have the stock,” he told CNA.
Besides surgical masks, which have been snapped up in pharmacies nationwide, the hospital’s stock of N95 masks is running low as well.
It also does not have hazmat suits, goggles and thermal scanners, Dr Gunawan added.
On Monday (Mar 9), the number of confirmed cases in Indonesia rose by 13 cases, taking the total number of cases to 19.
The government has appointed over 130 referral hospitals nationwide to handle COVID-19 cases.
In Aceh, a province with about 5.2 million people, only two have been named as referral hospitals for COVID-19.
Dr Zubir Mahmud Hospital is not in the list, but Dr Gunawan said the government should not neglect the rest of the hospitals.
“The government should not only give assistance and equipment to referral hospitals.
“The other hospitals are not allowed to refuse a patient. If our staff do not have adequate protective equipment to handle suspect patients, they will be afraid and panic too,” he added.
Dr Gunawan said he has written to the provincial health office to ask for hazmat suits.
REFERRAL HOSPITALS NEED MORE SUPPLIES TOO
As referral hospitals get ready to deal with the potential outbreak, they, too, said they need more equipment.
Gunung Jati Hospital in Cirebon, West Java, has the know-how to deal with infectious disease, having been selected as the referral hospital for bird flu, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, etc, since 2007.
Its director Dr Ismail Jamalludin said it is running out of goggles and only has six beds in the isolation rooms.
Similarly, Dr Didi Candradikusuma, head of tropical and infectious disease at Dr Saiful Anwar Hospital in Malang city, East Java, said they have limited hazmat suits.
“For general equipment like gloves and masks which we routinely use, our supply should be sufficient for the next four months,” Dr Candradikusuma told CNA.
Both doctors said the equipment shortage is being dealt with by the Health Ministry in Jakarta, which will send along the necessary items.
Dr Candradikusuma added that the ministry and health officials from West Java are monitoring the hospitals closely through communication in a WhatsApp group.
Meanwhile, some hospitals located in areas that are more developed are in a better state.
Sanglah Central General Hospital in tourist destination Denpasar, Bali, said it is ready to deal with COVID-19 cases.
“We have an ample stock of masks, hazmat suits, goggles and gloves,” its spokesperson Dewa Ketut Kresna said.
SELF-ISOLATION IF NO SYMPTOMS: HOSPITALS ASSOCIATION
Dr Lia Partakusuma, secretary-general of the Association of Hospitals in Indonesia acknowledged shortcomings in the healthcare facilities.
With 2,800 hospitals across Indonesia, not every hospital is fully-equipped to deal with COVID-19, she said.
For now, the government’s current priority is the 132 referral hospitals.
“The other non-referral hospitals are asked to prepare themselves and do not wait for assistance from the ministry.
“It is true that not every hospital has enough protective gear. We try to tell them where to purchase the equipment, while the ministry supplies its stocks to the referal hospitals,” said Dr Partakusuma.
The association is also updating hospitals on the standard operating procedure and reminding them that not every patient has to be warded.
“A lot of people might feel an urgent need to see a doctor after they return from a country with a lot of COVID-19 cases, even though they have no symptoms.
“We tell the hospitals to educate the patients. Not everyone has to be hospitalised. They can self-isolate at home,” Dr Partakusuma said.
Dr Partakusuma stressed that every hospital has to be ready.
“We have told every hospital, whether you are referral hospital or not, you must be ready.
“And if referral hospitals are full, you have to accept (COVID-19 suspect) patients,” she said.