KUANTAN – The intensive care unit (ICU) at Hospital Tengku Ampuan Afzan is in critical condition â€“ which bodes ill for its patients.
The air-conditioning is out, windows are being left open to let fresh air in and stand fans are being used to cool the patients and crucial equipment.
But the staff are stewing in the heat and there is no solution or immediate relief in sight.
The staff are working in stuffy rooms and have to ensure the patients do not get bedsores from excessive sweating in the high humidity.
They are frustrated and could be heard grumbling about the working conditions.
â€œIt rained a few days ago, but the weather is hot again,â€ said a medical officer.
â€œEveryone is sweating, but at least we can walk about or change clothes. I cannot imagine how uncomfortable it is for our bedridden patients.â€
A nurse said the hospital management was aware of the situation as many requests had been made for the air-conditioning system to be repaired.
â€œWe donâ€™t know whatâ€™s causing the hold-up.
â€œI hope we can get portable air-conditioners in by the end of the week,â€ she said.
Visitor Wilson Ramamoorthy, 49, said he was shocked to see the ICU operating without air-conditioning.
â€œIt is very hot and humid inside. Why is there no portable air-conditioner in such a high priority unit?
â€œThe doctors and nurses said they are also suffering, but cannot do anything about it. I sympathise with the staff and patients,â€ he said.
Wilson, whose brother Sundaraj, 55, has been in a coma after a road accident last month, said he was worried that the open windows increased the risk of infection among the patients. The open windows could also allow mosquitoes and flies into the ICU.
â€œIf someone dies from an infection, who is going to take responsibility?â€ asked Wilson.
Pahang Health Department director Datuk Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar said the aged air-conditioning system in the block broke down about three months ago.
He said the hospitalâ€™s support services provider was placing standÂalone cooling units in high priority areas in stages, as a temporary solution.
â€œA tender for the repair of the air-conditioning system has been issued and we expect work to begin by March,â€ he said.
However, the repair may take time â€“ as long as a year and a half â€“ because the damage was severe.
Dr Zainal Ariffin explained that a large part was damaged, including the power supply unit, so the whole system hd to be replaced.
Asked why it would take so long for the problem to be dealt with, he said assessment and estimation of the costs involved many agencies, including the Public Works DepartÂment and Health Ministry.
He admitted that the patients would be more susceptible to infection without the air-conditioning and hoped the problem could be resolved as soon as possible.
State Health, Human Resources and Special Functions Committee chairman Datuk Norol Azali Sulaiman and Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam could not be reached for comment. – The Star Online