Northern hospitals brace for freezing temperatures hinh anh 1Patients use blankets to keep warm while receiving treatment at the Bach Mai Hospital in Hanoi. (Source: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - At the corner of Bach Mai Hospital’s lobby in Hanoi, relatives of patients shiver with every gust of wind, even under their thick blankets. The recent chill is making their time as hospital visitors even more difficult.

The strong cold snap hitting Hanoi and northern provinces over the past few days pulled the temperatures down to around ten degrees Celsius. Mountainous areas have witnessed frost.

As a result, the number of patients, especially the elderly and children, admitted to hospitals for winter diseases has surged. Many hospitals have experienced overcrowding.

Old patients mostly contract heart, bone-related and respiratory diseases. The number of old patients suffering from stroke has increased by 15 percent since the cold snap began, Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Sai Gon) newspaper reported. 

Associate Professor Tran Minh Dien, deputy director of the National Paediatrics Hospital, told the newspaper that over the past few days, nearly 4,000 children have been sent to his hospital everyday, most of them infected with respiratory system illnesses and diarrhea caused by virus. The Paediatrics Department of Bach Mai Hospital and Saint Paul Hospital admitted significantly more children (10 to 20 percent) than normal. Some children were rushed to the hospital with serious pneumonia.

Waiting for his health check up at the National Geriatric Hospital, a patient named Tuan, 67, told Sai Gon Giai Phong, “I am infected with chronic bronchitis. Whenever the weather changes, especially when it is rainy and cold, I feel tightness in the chest, find it difficult to breathe and cough all day long. I am deprived of sleep”

“I have been here for nearly two hours waiting for my health examination,” he said.

Professor Ngo Quy Chau, deputy director of Bach Mai Hospital and director of the hospital’s Respiratory Centre, told Lao Dong (Labour) newspaper that respiratory illnesses are a leading cause of other illnesses and even death. Cold weather can also make chronic diseases such as asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) flare up.

Cold weather not only overcrowds central-level hospitals but also crowds local hospitals in northern mountainous provinces including Lao Cai, Yen Bai, Cao Bang and Lang Son.

Hospitals have made preparation to accommodate patients and their relatives.

Hospital K, Hospital for Tropical Diseases and Vietnam-Germany Hospital have prepared heaters and air-conditioners at the medical checkup areas, treatment rooms and operation spaces. More blankets are being supplied for patients.

The Emergency and Medical Checkup departments of hospitals provide meals at the patients’ rooms for heavily infected patients, those with disadvantaged conditions and those who do not have relatives.

The Bach Mai Hospital has mobilised 30 heaters for areas serving out-patients.

Tran Thi Nhi Ha, deputy director of Hanoi’s Health Department, said that the department has required hospitals to mobilise heating equipment and blankets for in-patients, ensure warmth for patients in waiting areas and pay attention to the elderly, newborns and children.

Medical treatment facilities must ensure medicine, beds and emergency equipment to respond to serious conditions caused by abnormal weather conditions such as high blood pressure, stroke, influenza, acute respiratory diseases.

The Paediatrics Department of Lao Cai Obstetrics and Pediatrics Hospital has brought in an additional 40 beds, increasing the number of beds to 100.

Doctors of National Hospital for Tropical Diseases said that cold weather poses risks to patients with high blood pressure and to old patients. The risks of stroke may be reduced by keeping patients warm in a windproof room.

Parents should keep their children warm and provide them with nutritious meals to increase their resistance to disease. Children face a high risk of flu, diarrhea, measles, whooping cough and chicken pox during winter and spring. Parents are advised to ensure their children receive vaccines.-VNA