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THG devises plan to open COVID-19 screening facility “Thonburi Clinic – Bang Sue”

Dr. Boon Vanasin, Chairman of Thonburi Healthcare Group, is gearing up to open Thonburi Clinic - Bang Sue to help mitigate the severity of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak and maximize recovery efforts. Dr. Boon detailed his vision through a three-phase operation plan — the first of which will see the opening of a 50-room, CT scan-equipped screening clinic located on a three-rai area in central Bangkok.

Dr. Boon Vanasin, Chairman of Thonburi Healthcare Group PCL or THG — a leading, comprehensive healthcare provider, operating with disruptive technology under the concept of ‘Lifetime Health Guardian For All’ — revealed his vision for a new coronavirus (COVID-19) screening facility. He indicated that the construction of a new emergency medical facility or special clinic constituted a preparation measure that aligned with governmental guidelines. According to the Chairman, the emergency hospital in Wuhan, China, is being used as a model to help handle the uncertainties of the outbreak situation over the next 3 - 6 months. Nonetheless, it is worth noting that Thailand’s situation has not been as critical as that of many other nations, as the Thai government and other relevant agencies have been providing useful information to help citizens stay alert, monitor their own behaviors and conditions, and avoid high-risk areas, while medical professionals have been demonstrating their highest capacity to screen and treat patients.

There are indications that the COVID-19 outbreak may escalate to ‘Phase 3’, which entails local transmissions, or contractions in patients without an international travel history or without any contacts with known cases. This may be due to many causes. For example, many people may be asymptomatic carriers. Many hospitals do not have the capacity to accept COVID-19 patients due to their limitations in terms of facilities, staff, and laboratories. There are also a number of flaws in the current disease testing methods, which may result in false negatives. This, in turn, might be caused by substandard and incorrect collections of samples from the throat and nose of the patients OR the patients may only have a small amount of the virus due to the incubation period OR the patient may have a strong immune system. Additionally, the 2019 coronavirus is mutating rapidly. Therefore, it is necessary to rely on the latest technologies for the testing.Dr. Boon disclosed.

Presently, many COVID-19 testing methods are in use. Singapore, China, and Western countries not only employ the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique to detect antibodies, but also use the next-generation DNA sequencing technology for more precise testing, as it allows for clearer identifications of COVID-19 and other viruses. However, such methods are very costly. Hence, THG has recognized the importance of ensuring the preparedness of the medical staff, technologies, equipment, and facilities to help the government sector handle the COVID-19 outbreak, which may soon enter Phase 3 and result in a rapid increase in the number of cases — similarly to what has been observed in various countries like Italy, Iran, and the US, where state hospitals have not been able to adequately take care of the patients.

As such, THG has prepared the following three-phase plan to handle the COVID-19 outbreak situation:

Emergency clinic Thonburi Bang Sue

Phase 1: Open a specialized clinic with a triage building and a laboratory to perform chest CT scans. The clinic will commence operations as soon as the necessary license is obtained. It will be situated on a three-rai land in Bang Sue, close to the highway, train station, and bus station. The facility will have approximately 50 isolation rooms and a 20-bed observation unit. The examination rooms for patients with a common cold and suspected cases of COVID-19 will be separated.

Screening room

In addition, the clinic will serve both individual and organizational clients, as business companies, airlines, embassies, government agencies, and other organizations may wish to provide care for patients/staff members who are at risk of contracting COVID-19 and may need test results in less than 14 days. Next-generation sequencing (NGS) will also be used to perform genetic analysis of COVID-19, as this technology is capable of reading genetic codes and accurately sequencing the genome of the virus, and has played a major role in the outbreak mitigation in China.

Phase 2: In the event that the outbreak enters Phase 3, a field hospital with 200 beds for non-critical and 50 beds for critical patients will be built. The facility will be situated on a four-rai land area opposite Phra Nang Klao Hospital. The preparation process will take 6 - 8 months.

Phase 3: A convalescent hospital will accommodate a large number of patients who require lengthy hospital care to recover from the illness. The facility shall have 1,000-1,500 hospital beds. Currently, several THG hospitals, both inside and outside of Bangkok, have the capacity to provide the service.

The THG management team is currently studying the proposed plan and devising the appropriate course of action to promptly handle the situation. The team will also consult with the Ministry of Public Health and other relevant agencies for advice on the matter. The actual course of action will depend upon how the COVID-19 outbreak in the country unfolds,Dr. Boon concluded.

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