President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has said that a designated COVID-19 hospital in Galang Island, Riau Islands, will be ready to begin operations on April 6 with construction almost 100 percent complete on Wednesday.
“We hope the hospital will begin operations next Monday. The schedule has been delayed three to four days because there was an issue in transporting building materials to the island,” said Jokowi when visiting the hospital on Wednesday.
The hospital is being built on a 16 hectare site that was previously used as a camp for Vietnam war refugees in the 1970s and will comprise zones A and B.
Zone A will serve as the dormitory for medical workers and the management of the hospital, and will be equipped with 158 beds, laundry facilities and sterilization facilities. Meanwhile, zone B will be used as a ward for patients, and will consist of 20 beds in the isolation section and another 340 in the observation area.
Another zone, called zone C, has been set aside for further development of the hospital. “So, in total, the hospital will have 360 beds, and 20 will be in the isolation room,” he added.
Despite being ready to open next week, the President said he hoped the hospital would not need to be used, as the existing referral hospitals, including a makeshift facility at the Kemayoran Athletes Village, Central Jakarta, were expected to be sufficient to handle COVID-19 patients.
“We built the hospital [in Galang Island] to anticipate [rapid spread of] the disease. Hopefully, we will never have to use it to treat COVID-19 patients,” said Jokowi, adding that the hospital would also serve as a research facility and infectious disease treatment center once the pandemic ended.
The decision to build a hospital on Galang Island that specializes in treating COVID-19 patients came after the President held a limited meeting with several of his aides at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta on March 3.
Galang Island was chosen as the future site of the hospital because several buildings from the refugee camp that existed from 1979 and 1996 still remain.
The site also has access to clean water and electricity, while the island is located 50 kilometers from Hang Nadim International Airport. State-owned construction company PT Wijaya Karya (WIKA) was chosen as the contractor for the project.
Doni Ardono, WIKA’s project leader at the hospital, said the company had raced the clock to finish construction after commencing the project on March 11. The government had set a target to have the hospital fully operational within a month.
“Luckily, we will meet the target, as the observation rooms, the isolation rooms and supporting facilities will be completed on April 5, six days ahead of the deadline,” Doni said.
Batam Mayor Muhammad Rusdi also expressed hope that false information about the hospital would not be spread, after the plan was initially met with surprise and opposition from locals.
“We hope the hospital can commence operations next week,” he said, adding that the hospital would be operated by Indonesian Military (TNI) personnel. (glh)