Sanglah Switches Swine Flu to Outpatient Treatment

DENPASAR ~ The steep cost of treating suspected swine flu patients and the rising number of people presenting with applicable symptoms have forced Sanglah Hospital to change its tactics for dealing with the disease.

The hospital is now treating an average of 45 people a day who present with symptoms they fear may be swine flu.

And most – those with mild symptoms – are now treated as outpatients instead of being automatically admitted to the Nusa Indah isolation ward.

“If the symptoms are mild, outpatient care is sufficient,” Sanglah’s head of outpatient treatment, Dr. Ken Wirasandhi, said on Tuesday when announcing the change.

Patients are given Tamiflu as treatment.

Based on a daily requirement to provide initial tests and face masks for 45 patients, the hospital was spending Rp13.5 million (US$1,358) a day, or Rp405 million a month ($40,744), Dr. Wirasandhi said.

Costs of laboratory tests are on top of this expenditure. Patients require two sets of tests at a cost of Rp900,000 ($90.50) a test.

The central government released funds to Indonesian hospitals to deal with swine flu when the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared it a pandemic disease, but the call on Sanglah’s resources is quickly eating into available money.

Under the rules, if a patient tested for swine flu proves negative for the disease but still requires treatment – for other flu viruses or another disease – then the cost of additional treatment is met by the patient under normal arrangements.

Since the declaration of a pandemic by the WHO and the appearance of cases of swine flu in Bali – mostly among foreign tourists who showed symptoms after arrival here – Sanglah has treated 85 people in its isolation ward.

Only one foreigner, an Australian, is in Nusa Indah at present.

The hospital has made doctors and nurses dealing directly with flu suspects responsible for ensuring patients are provided with face masks.

It’s a Pig of a Thing – see this week’s Once column – Pg 9

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