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Ho Chi Minh City plans COVID-19 field hospitals’ gradual closure

Ho Chi Minh City plans COVID-19 field hospitals’ gradual closure

Thursday, September 23, 2021, 10:44 GMT+7
Ho Chi Minh City plans COVID-19 field hospitals’ gradual closure
Medical staff work at the COVID-19 field hospital in An Khanh Ward, Thu Duc City, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tu Trung / Tuoi Tre

Medical authorities in Ho Chi Minh City have set out a plan to gradually close a number of field hospitals for COVID-19 treatment once socio-economic activities are resumed.

Schools, dormitories, apartment buildings, cultural houses, and parts of hospitals that had been requisitioned for COVID-19 quarantine and treatment purposes will return to their original functions as approximately 40 percent of the city’s active patients are under home treatment and the number of patients discharged from hospitals is increasing day by day.

Fewer new inpatients

The COVID-19 field hospital in District 8, which was set up at the district’s Cultural Center in August and mobilized personnel from different major hospitals in the city, has seen its daily new cases drop from 25 to ten recently, according to Dr. Nguyen Thanh Phong, the hospital’s director.

It successfully treated and discharged about 70 out of its 170 COVID-19 patients.

The daily counts of admissions into other COVID-19 field hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City have also been on a downward trend.

The city’s COVID-19 field hospital No. 1, which was transformed from the dormitory of the Center for National Defense and Security Training in Thu Duc City with a capacity of about 4,500 beds, has admitted a total of more than 19,000 patients.

Some 16,000 of them recovered from COVID-19 and were discharged.

The hospital currently receives about 200 to 300 new patients a day, just half of the daily number during its peak time, according to Dr. Nguyen Thanh Tam, head of the hospital’s general planning department.

The COVID-19 field hospital No. 9, which was converted from the second campus of the Ho Chi Minh City University of Foreign Languages - Information Technology in Hoc Mon District, currently admits about 300 to 400 new patients a day, down from 600 per day in previous months, according to Dr. Pham Thi Thu Van, who is in charge of managing the hospital.

“The mobilization of medics to focus on treating infected cases at home has brought about positive effects, helping to limit the number of serious cases requiring hospitalization,” said Dr. Phong of the COVID-19 field hospital in District 8.

“When the number of new inpatients decreases, medical staff [at hospitals] can better care for and treat [existing] inpatients, thereby increasing the hospital discharge rate while reducing serious complications and deaths,” the doctor explained.

A medical worker visits a COVID-19 patient at his home in Phu Nhuan District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

A medical worker visits a COVID-19 patient at his home in Phu Nhuan District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Shutdown plan

A total of 93 facilities are currently providing COVID-19 hospital treatment in Ho Chi Minh City, including ten resuscitation centers, 30 field hospitals, and 53 private, district-level, and city-level hospitals.

They are divided into three levels based on the severity of patients.

The 30 field hospitals are offering 42,000 beds, accounting for a majority of the combination of 64,600 beds of the 93 facilities.

The city’s medical sector administration plans to hand over schools converted to field hospitals back to their original management after September 30.

Following that, each of the remaining resuscitation centers will treat both moderate and severe COVID-19 patients.

Some field hospitals treating mild patients will be kept in place in Cu Chi and Can Gio Districts.

“It is necessary to maintain field hospitals for COVID-19 patients with a minimum capacity of 20-40 beds equipped with oxygen supply,” a leader of the municipal Department of Health said.

In addition, the infrastructure of the resuscitation centers managed by Bach Mai Hospital, Viet Duc University Hospital, and Hue Central Hospital shall be kept intact to be ready for resumption in case the COVID-19 pandemic resurges.

Merger suggestion

Medical experts showed their agreement on the city’s plan to gradually restore COVID-19 field hospitals to their original functions.

In particular, Dr. Phong suggested some with quality infrastructure only be suspended, instead of being dismantled, so that they can be ready for use when needed.

The doctor also proposed moving COVID-19 inpatients from different field hospitals into certain ones to save costs once the numbers of their new cases reduce.

A medical worker gives a rapid antigen COVID-19 test kit to a resident of Tan Binh District in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

A medical worker gives a rapid antigen COVID-19 test kit to a resident of Tan Binh District in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Elaborating on Dr. Phong’s proposal, Dr. Tran Van Khanh, director of Le Van Thinh Hospital who manages the COVID-19 field hospital No. 3 in Thu Duc City, said the merger of COVID-19 field hospitals should only be carried out when the number of inpatients shrinks to about 40 percent of their capacities.

Dr. Khanh suggested changing the focus of COVID-19 field hospitals to providing post-COVID-19 treatment courses, such as physical therapy, respiratory improvement, and nutrition.

Focus on home treatment

While planning to gradually close COVID-19 field hospitals, Ho Chi Minh City authorities also intend to give more assignments to over 500 mobile medical stations that have been established across the city after the model proved its efficiency in providing care for patients quarantined at home.

The new tasks include conducting rapid coronavirus tests and administering COVID-19 vaccines to people.

Authorities will mobilize personnel from private hospitals for the assignment of treating COVID-19 patients at home.

Tang Chi Thuong, director of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Health, has approved the proposal to restore the Cu Chi Regional General Hospital in Cu Chi District and the District 7 Hospital to its original functions -- treating non-COVID-19 patients.

New COVID-19 patients that require hospitalization in the two districts will be sent to field hospitals or resuscitation centers following the restoration.

Ho Chi Minh City reported 5,435 local infections on Wednesday, down by 1,086 patients from the day before, according to the Ministry of Health's data.

The city has recorded 354,175 coronavirus patients so far, the majority logged since late April, while almost 14,000 people have died of the respiratory disease.  

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