CCSA committee to address hospital bed shortage in and around Bangkok
A subcommittee of the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) is set to discuss the problem of a lack of hospital beds at state and private hospitals today (Wednesday), to accommodate the increasing number of severe COVID-19 cases.
General Nattaphon Narkphanit, head of the CCSA panel, said today that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is concerned with reports that several hospitals are running low on available beds and wants the Ministry of Public Health to address the problem and, if necessary, seek help from military hospitals.
In the coastal province of Samut Sakhon, it is reported that the Samut Sakhon Hospital, the Krathum Baen Hospital and the Banphaeo General Hospital now have a combined number of 63 unoccupied beds, out of a total of 541. Moreover, private hospitals in the province have reported that their combined 873 bed capacity is now almost full.
Hospitals in this coastal province have been providing treatment to local COVID-19 patients, as well as those transferred from the other provinces, including Bangkok. The province also has a large field hospital.
Dr. Anukul Thaithanan, director of Samut Sakhon Hospital, said that more severe cases are being admitted in the third wave of pandemic, which started in April 2021, compared to the first two waves.
The Medical Services Department has also expressed concern over the prospect that all hospitals in and around Bangkok will run out of beds to accommodate new severe cases. For instance, 268 beds in negative pressure ICU rooms are now occupied, leaving 46 still empty, whereas 689 beds in modified negative pressure ICU rooms are almost filled up, with just 68 unoccupied.
For the less severe cases, 3,529 beds in separate rooms have been filled up, leaving 527 unoccupied. There are also 1,458 empty beds for the less severe cases as 6,582 have been occupied. For beds in “hospitels” and field hospitals, there are 3,267 and 803 beds still available respectively.
Medical Services Department Director-General Dr. Somsak Akkasilp said that there are about 200 private hospitals in Bangkok and each of them has 1 or 2 ICUs and they do not have sufficient staff to look after all the COVID-19 patients.
To tackle the hospital bed shortage, he suggested that the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration and community leaders adopt a “bubble and seal” measure in each community, to separate the infected.
In case elderly people, Dr. Somsak said they should be given vaccinations before they are transferred to hospitals and that all bed-ridden people must be inoculated too, adding that the new infection rate must be reduced as quickly as possible, otherwise the existing health system will be overwhelmed.
He also advised the general public to restrict their movements and to observe the safety measures adopted by the Public Health Ministry strictly.