The fever clinics of local district and city hospitals are under constant pressure due to a surge in patients in Shanghai and a shortage of medical staff, many of whom have contracted COVID-19 themselves.
To cope with this situation, local health authorities are encouraging patients to use the hospital’s Internet service for consultation and prescription, and opening more fever clinics in neighboring health centers by allocating more resources to local facilities.
Wednesday was the first day that no nucleic acid test result checks were required for emergency and outpatient services in Shanghai. Hospitals said they had assigned special staff to care for patients, including referring patients with high temperatures to a fever clinic.
Ambulances have fewer patients due to the pandemic, while fevers are overcrowded.
Xinhua Hospital, one of the leading public hospitals in Shanghai, has separate fever clinics for adults and children. The adult clinic sees about 700 patients and the children’s clinic sees over 400 patients a day, both numbers much higher than a week ago.
Hospital officials said Monday afternoon they opened a second adult fever ward with six additional consultation rooms and prepared additional beds for serious COVID-19 patients. Critically ill patients are sent to the hospital’s intensive care unit.
Waiting times vary from hospital to hospital in accordance with nearby medical resources. Patients have to wait less than an hour in some hospitals, while in others the wait can be more than two hours.
Xinhua Hospital, the city’s leading pediatric facility, said pediatric patients can wait up to four hours at peak times.
“The main concern is to ensure proper functioning of fever clinics and treatment of serious patients. All departments have prepared teams to support fever clinics,” said Dr. Zou Heng, Deputy Director of the Emergency and Outpatient Department of Xinhua Hospital.
“Emergency and fever doctors consult on the condition of patients and perform detailed checks to assess whether the patient should remain for observation. Some patients are directly hospitalized in the emergency.”
Officials at the Shanghai Tenth People’s Hospital said its fever clinic sees about 1,000 patients each day. Doctors from different departments support the medical staff on the front line.
Hospital officials said patients with mild symptoms should rest well, visit nearby health centers and take medicine at home instead of queuing outside hospitals. Only people with persistent high fever for several days or other severe symptoms should go to a major hospital.
International hospitals were also overwhelmed with patients.
Officials at Shanghai Jiahui International Hospital said its emergency and fever department receives more than 200 patients each day; 80 percent of them are victims of fever.
Due to the large number of patients and lack of staff due to infection, patients have to wait for two hours at peak times.
“Our nurses classify patients according to each one’s condition to ensure safety and medical progress. The hospitalization rate has also reached 85 percent,” said Dr. John Hsiang, president of the hospital.
To ease pressure on the clinic, the hospital began offering consultations to adults and children with fever. Her internet hospital has over 100 online consultations every day. Most seek advice about fever and 40 percent are foreign patients.
Shanghai United Family Hospital also said it was operating at full capacity despite the growing number of patients, with wards being used only for sick pregnant women and those with serious conditions.