The 1668 hotline for COVID-19 patients seeking hospital beds has been overwhelmed with more callers than it can handle. The Department of Medical Services has increased the number of available operators, while urging patients to use an official chat account on the LINE messaging application as an alternative contact channel.
The Department of Medical Services (DMS) has seen more than 200 calls each day to its 1668 call center for COVID-19 hospitalization, overwhelming the limited number of operators available at any given time, and resulting in callers being put on hold for long periods.
The DMS Director General Dr. Somsak Akksilp said the call center is now rerouting some callers to available mobile phone numbers of volunteers, effectively adding 10 more operators in each shift to answer the high volume of calls.
He has encouraged patients to send a message to the @sabaideebot official account on the LINE messaging application, where they can register their name, address and telephone number. Workers will then call back and arrange their transportation to the hospital.
He said that every person involved is now working hard to minimize the wait time, and ensure all infected persons will be admitted to a hospital as soon as they can.
The 1668 call center has been designated as a central contact point for patients who receive a positive COVID-19 test result and who still don’t have their hospital admission arrangement.
Operating everyday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., the call center operators not only receive calls for hospitalization arrangement from patients, but also make calls to monitor the symptoms of patients, with a 20-40 minute talk with each person.
Over the past 10 days, the center has accepted 2,476 calls, and made 2,307 calls, to follow up on patients. The center has so far managed to hospitalize 1,204 people, with around 50 code yellow patients with respiratory symptoms now waiting to be admitted.