A new field hospital called “Busarakam” opened on Friday at Impact Muang Thong Thani in Nonthaburi for up to 5,000 Covid-19 patients with moderate symptoms from Bangkok and its surrounding provinces.
Translated as “topaz” in Thai, Busarakam was set up as a cooperative venture between Impact executives led by Peter and Paul Kanjanapas and the Ministry of Public Health and will mainly take on patients from what officials have labelled a “yellow” group of patients on a colour-coded severity scale.
The facility has been designed to enable hospitals to focus on those needing intensive hospital care in the red group while it and other so-called “hospitels” scattered around the country provide care for those whose condition mostly requires isolation and monitoring.
What has been described as Thailand’s third wave of Covid-19 broke out in April after a spate of cases was traced back to nightclubs and bars in Bangkok’s well-heeled Thong Lor area.
Most of those who have tested positive since then have done so for the B117 strain of the virus first identified in the UK which is believed to be almost twice as contagious as the variant first associated with earlier cases.
In just six weeks, the number of infections in the kingdom has climbed to more than 67,000, which is already double the figure recorded during the whole of 2020.
Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, who attended Friday’s opening of the facility, said medical staff would be available around the clock to take care of patients, and said he was sure staff at Busarakam would be able to cope with their patients.
“But if their condition deteriorates, they will immediately be transferred to hospitals for treatment,” he said.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who presided over the opening ceremony, thanked the private sector for its cooperation in providing support for the Public Health Ministry to set up this field hospital.
The Bangkok Post also visited the site on Friday shortly after the opening ceremony.
The hospital will be staffed by a rotation of medical personnel approved by the Office of the Permanent Secretary of Public Health and has been fitted out with medical equipment including respirators, X-Ray equipment, high-flow oxygen therapy machines and a standardised laboratory.
It is located in the 20,000-square-metre Challenger 3 Hall and divided into four zones for male patients, female patients, a mixed ward and patients who in need of oxygen support.
There are also 100 negative pressure rooms for patients at the more severe end of the group they will be treating.
Cardboard beds made from recycled paper with blankets and pillows are provided for hospitalised patients and Wi-Fi internet access and mobile phone charging points are available throughout the facility to ensure patients can stay in touch with friends and family.
The hospital has also installed 120 CCTV cameras around the hall so patients can be monitored by 780 medical staff from 60 provinces less hard-hit by the current outbreak. They have been assigned to provide care by the ministry.
There are also over 100 life support machines on standby should any patients deteriorate rapidly before they can be moved to a nearby hospital.
Kiattiphum Wongrajit, permanent secretary for public health, said Bangkok has around 26,000 beds, but unfortunately 60% of them are already occupied by Covid-19 patients with moderate and critical symptoms.
Currently 100 of 1,000 ICU beds remain available but are expected to be taken in the coming weeks, he said.
Dr Kiattiphum said some patients at low risk of a poor outcome (“green” on the government scale) are being treated in hospitals, which takes away resources from other patients.
Meanwhile, Department of Health chief Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai said his team will supervise waste management at the new facility which is likely to be busy and in need of regular disinfection.
above A view of the beds set up at Impact Muang Thong Thani. The hospital is expected to help about 5,000 patients. below Beds with blankets and pillows are provided for patients. (Photo by Pornprom Satrabhaya)