Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital adopted strict measures, which include barring those with high risk of spreading infection and those who are vulnerable to getting infected to curb the spread of the COVID-19 infection.
Only those who are issued ‘safe stickers’ after screening are allowed to visit patients and attend doctor appointments to minimise the risk of infection.
Medical Superintendent at RIPAS Hospital Dr Haji Abdul Rashid bin Haji Mohammad announced these new measures during a press conference at the Women and Children’s Centre yesterday.
He said, “The risk of COVID-19 infection is higher for patients in the hospital, because the majority of the patients are of old age and suffering from chronic illnesses. This means that they have weakened immune systems.
“Anyone who has been infected with COVID-19 will seek treatment at a hospital or a health clinic. Therefore, measures have been put in place to ensure the well-being of hospital patients.
“Visitors, caregivers and accompanying friends or family members with symptoms of cough, fever and other ailments are not allowed to enter. Only visitors issued safe stickers are allowed to visit patients in the wards.
“Only one accompanying friend or family member is allowed for each patient. Only one visitor or caregiver at a time is allowed for each patient. Visitors or accompanying friends or family members under the age of 12 are not allowed to enter. Visitors or accompanying friends or family members with a history of travelling abroad in the past 14 days are not allowed to enter.”
He added, “Our message is: Only come to the hospital if there is a need. Listen to the advice of the Ministry of Health (MoH) and stay at home.”
Meanwhile, the MoH established nine checkpoints which serve as entry points for patients and visitors to the hospital.
Senior Medical Officer of Acute Medical Services at RIPAS Hospital Dr Haji Mohammad Athaaillah bin Haji Abdullah explained, “The infrastructure of RIPAS Hospital is based on an open hospital, easily accessible with many entry points. The hospital identified nine locations deemed suitable for carrying out checks on newly-arrived patients or visitors.
“The nine locations are the Outpatient Department area near The Coffee Bean stand, the entrance to the Emergency Department for ambulances, the Specialist Clinic outside the Radiology Department, the elevator halls, the Physiotherapy/ Occupational Therapy Unit and the elevator halls and main entrance to the Women and Children’s Centre.
“Patients and visitors are required to fill in a declaration form with their name, telephone number, identity card details, if they show any symptoms, have a recent history of travelling abroad and had contact with individuals confirmed as COVID-19 positive.
“The public is reminded that it is important to provide true answers in the declaration form.
“Through the declaration form, the MoH can separate high-risk individuals from those who are low risk. People who are contacted will immediately be isolated in specific areas before they are brought to the Sports Complex using special transport.
“RIPAS Hospital also seeks public cooperation to be courteous to the people manning the check points. They are volunteers, nurses and administrative staff.”
He announced that RIPAS Hospital will conduct thermal scanning and temperature checks. “Therefore, if all is right with the declaration form and temperature check, then a safe sticker will be issued, and the patient or visitor can proceed with their appointment or visit.
“However, an individual with a high temperature of 38 degrees Celsius and above will be given an unsafe sticker (red) and provided with a face mask.
“A red sticker means that they are not allowed as outpatients or visitors, unless they happen to be children with fever, who urgently need to see a doctor at the Emergency Department or Paediatric Clinic, and individuals who need treatment at the Emergency Department.
“Those with a doctor’s appointment and found to have a high temperature or fever will be given a red sticker, and urged to change appointments through a phone call to the clinic. They are also urged to seek treatment at clinics within their areas.
“Meanwhile, individuals aged 12 and below, or people with a weakened immunity are discouraged from visiting the hospital. We don’t want an infection from outside to affect the existing patients, and we also don’t want infections within the hospital to affect immune-compromised individuals.
“Anyone aged 65 and below with a fever of above 38 degrees Celsius and showing symptoms of lung infection, or with a history of recent travel abroad, or had contact with a patient confirmed as COVID-19 positive, will be given a face mask and brought to the Sports Complex immediately in a special vehicle.
“Meanwhile, those above 65 years with a fever of above 38 degrees Celsius and showing symptoms of lung infection, or with a history of recent travel abroad, or had contact with a patient confirmed as COVID-19 positive, will be given a face mask and escorted to the Flu Centre at the Emergency Department.”
Acting Chief Executive Officer (Special Grade) of RIPAS Hospital Haji Abdul Khalid As’ari bin Haji Azahari highlighted the preparedness of RIPAS Hospital in coping with the outbreak. “Since early January, RIPAS Hospital had been setting up a flu management team to oversee the preparation of facilities, equipment and staff in receiving cases,” he said.
“RIPAS Hospital prepared a Business Continuation Plan to address phases of the epidemic, namely the Alert Phase, when the infection had not arrived in Brunei, whereby the course of action was to detect and minimise the importation of the disease.
“The Containment Phase is where we are right now. It occurs when cases have started to emerge in the country and action is taken to stop and overcome the spread of the disease. The last phase is the Mitigation Phase.”
Deputy Medical Superintendent I at RIPAS Hospital Dr Haji Muhd Nurhasanuddin bin Kelali described the conditions at the Sports Complex, where medical swabbing is carried out. “I gathered the staff who were previously involved with H1N1 and made some specific modifications. Alhamdulillah, we managed to carry out our plan.
“When we received the first case from the Tabligh cluster, our Sports Complex was activated to begin screenings for that cluster.”
He continued, “We worked from 8am to 5pm on the first day, which was then extended to 10pm. There are still many cases that have yet to be tested. On the third day, we decided to remain open for 24 hours and seven days a week. We gathered all the manpower and nurses to run our Sports Complex.
“With students returning from overseas, we are receiving more people to be screened and swabbed. We are also receiving contact and self-isolation cases that require further checks and swabs.”