By now fingers are probably being pointed in all directions as to the cause of the fire at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of Hospital Sultanah Aminah (HSA), Johor Bahru which claimed six lives.
First questions would be on the hospital being old and needing proper upgrades, and as to whether these upgrades were sufficient to cater to the overwhelming admittance of the hospital.
HSA was established in 1968 and has Malaysia’s first public sector ICU.
It was built under the stewardship of the State Anaesthesiologist Datuk Dr T. Sachithanandan and was officially in operation on February 3, 1969.
The HSA’s ICU unit became the model upon which subsequent ICU facilities were designed and built-in numerous other Ministry of Health’s state general hospitals nationwide.
This piece of history record shows how old the ICU wing is.
DAP Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching says that projects to upgrade the hospital was carried out in stages since 2015. However, upgrades of the ICU wing were not on the list of the planned upgrades.
When asked if it could have been due to old facilities that caused the explosion, Teo says it could be possible but declines to speculate.
Teo who has been actively pressuring the federal and local government for hospital upgrades had also previously questioned the realisation of plans to make available more public hospitals to cater to the overwhelming capacity at HSA.
“There are portable oxygen cylinders that could have been used by patients who were receiving facemask oxygen from the pipeline supply.
“This is to enable the hospital staff to transfer the patients in the event of the fire. I don’t know why they were not used,” she adds.
At the moment, the cause of the fire is unknown, Teo says that she would refrain from speculating or pointing fingers as it may add salt to the wound.
“The point I want to emphasise is when was the last time they carried out the Fire Protection Inspection and Testing? When was the last fire drill?” asks Teo.
Teo then raises the hospital’s preparedness to handle an emergency.
“There should be easy access to high dependency units.
“Hospitals often continue to use old machines because they are lacking funds, so the equipment could be functioning well, but is still used without backup battery. But that said, we still don’t know if this is one of the reasons to why the patients could not be saved,” she adds.
She also points out that bed occupancy at HAS is at 93% with insufficient beds.
“When we don’t even have sufficient beds, how can sufficient funding be channeled to the hospital for beds?” she further questions.
Teo adds that the hospital should place priority as to what support will be rendered to the patients and staff post-tragedy and to what extent hospital services will be disrupted.
In May this year, Teo had raised questions in Parliament on promised construction of the two new ‘Sultanah Aminah Dua’ hospitals on Health Ministry-owned land in Tampoi and Pasir Gudang.
Teo said the three existing hospitals in Johor – Hospital Sultanah Aminah Johor Bahru (HSA), Hospital Sultan Ismail and Hospital Temenggong Sri Maharaja Tun Ibrahim Kulai – are no longer able to accommodate the ever-growing number of patients in the Iskandar Malaysia region.
Source : Soo Wern Jun@The Heat Malaysia Online