Severe bed shortage sends Saigon child patients to hospital hallway

By Vien An, Thanh Nien News

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Sick children and their families in the hallway of the Children's Hospital No.1 in Ho Chi Minh City in early October. Photo: Luong Ngoc Sick children and their families in the hallway of the Children's Hospital No.1 in Ho Chi Minh City in early October. Photo: Luong Ngoc


Children patients in Ho Chi Minh are not just sharing beds.
They are sleeping under the beds, in the hallway or just wherever their parents can find enough space for a hammock or a small mattress. 
The outbreaks of multiple diseases are resulting in the biggest crowds of the decade in many pediatric hospitals in the city.
Children’s Hospital No.1 and No.2, the leading ones in the city, have received a heavy flow of patients since the beginning of October.
The latter is having more than 7,000 children brought in for examinations every day and more than 2,000 inpatients.
Doctor Ngo Ngoc Quang Minh of Children’s Hospital No.1 said that it has never experienced such a “sudden” increase in patients for more than ten years.
The hospital, which has 1,400 beds, is having 2,100 inpatients on a daily basis, far from the highest number of around 1,700 of the past ten years.
It received around 2,500 children coming for examinations every day in early September, but the number has risen to 6,500.
Thanh Mai, a mother from Tien Giang Province in the Mekong Delta, has been sleeping in the hallway of the hospital with her child, who is under treatment for dengue fever.
But Mai said she is still lucky than other parents who have to take turn to carry their children in their arms.
Tran Thi Lan, grandmother of another dengue fever patient from the delta’s Long An Province, is one of those.
Lan said she lets the 3-year-old boy sleep at a corner in the hallway at night, but during the day, they have to give way for people who need to walk around. 
The city is not only going through a dengue fever outbreak, but it’s now also the season of respiratory diseases and hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD).
Minh said the number of patients of the infectious diseases, both fatal if treated late, has doubled since early September.
His hospital received 400 dengue fever patients and nearly 900 HFMD patients in September.
And there are many other patients who suffer from respiratory inflammations including pneumonia due to “irregular rain and heat,” the doctors said.
But doctor Le Bich Lien, deputy director of the hospital, said the combination of the diseases is not the only factor causing the crowds.
She said that many patients and their families travel from other provinces, even though they do not need to. 
Patients from other provinces now account for 65 percent of those staying at the hospital.

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