With the easing of the fifth wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic and the downward trend of the number of confirmed patients, CUHK Medical Centre (CUHKMC) will officially close its designated isolation ward (stepdown ward) on 27 April 2022 after discussion with Department of Health and Hospital Authority. Following the closure of the stepdown ward, staff will be redeployed back to the general wards to continue to provide services for the public.
Since the outbreak of the fifth wave of the epidemic early this year, Hong Kong had experienced an exponential growth in the number of confirmed COVID-19 patients and mortality, putting immense pressure on the public healthcare system. To help fight the epidemic, CUHKMC launched the stepdown ward to admit COVID-19 patients referred from public hospitals on 7 March.
CUHKMC’s stepdown ward provided 24 beds for COVID-19 patients. During the operational period, the stepdown ward treated a total of 42 patients, aged between 61 and 106, referred from NTEC (New Territories East Cluster), KCC (Kowloon Central Cluster), KEC (Kowloon East Cluster) and KWC (Kowloon West Cluster). The 42 patients stayed at the hospital with the average length of stay of 17 days. They were primarily frail elderly persons with chronic illnesses. A total of 3 death cases was recorded and five patients were transferred back to public hospitals due to exacerbating health condition, while one patient was transferred to general ward for continuing nursing care after being tested negative by PRC Test. The rest of the patients were discharged home or returned to residential care homes after recovery.
In addition to admitting the COVID-19 patients, CUHKMC has also set aside another 24 beds for treating non-COVID patients referred from the Hospital Authority under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) and charitable donation programmes. These programmes help to further relieve the pressure on public healthcare system and to cope with patients’ needs for urgent treatment and rehabilitation. The 48 beds account for one-third of the total number of beds of CUHKMC.
Dr. Hong FUNG, Chief Executive Officer, CUHKMC, said, “The raging fifth wave of the epidemic has exerted pressure and burden on both public and private hospitals, where the public healthcare system was in particular excessively overwhelmed. Though CUHKMC was in operation for only more than a year, as a member of the local healthcare industry, we definitely are more than willing to offer help in combating the epidemic, no matter how hard it is. CUHKMC will continue to serve the local community with professionalism and perseverance as always to safeguard all public members’ health.”
With the cessation of the operation of stepdown ward, CUHKMC has immediately arranged for the ward deep cleansing and thorough disinfection. The ventilation system and the negative air pressure will also be adjusted back to normal. It will take about two weeks for the conversion work. Once the ward environment is considered safe and fulfils the infection control standards, the ward will resume to become a general ward for admitting patients as usual.
About Designated Stepdown Ward
The designated stepdown ward for treating COVID-19 patients is located in the east wing of the hospital building. With the generous donation of a special funding from The Hong Kong Jockey Club, necessary enhancement work has been completed in the designated ward, including installation of negative pressure rooms and isolation facilities, so as to meet the required standards of infection control and clinical care. The ventilation system of the stepdown ward has also been adjusted, so that the airflow in the designated area is separated from the rest of the Hospital.
CUHKMC has adopted a “One Building, Two Hospitals” approach to facilitate the admission of COVID-19 patients. The equipment, facilities and daily operation of the designated step-down ward is completely separated from other areas of the Hospital to eliminate the risk of cross-infection and to ensure that other patients and hospital services will not be affected.
(For details about the stepdown ward, please refer to the press release issued on 7 March 2022)