Outpatients upset over move due to Governor
By NG KANG-CHUNG
BONE marrow outpatients attending the Queen Mary Hospital yesterday found they had to move to a dusty and noisy ward for their regular examination because of security surrounding the Governor, Mr Chris Patten.
The bone marrow transplantation centre, adjacent to the coronary care unit where the Governor was being treated, was closed to minimise disturbance to Mr Patten.
Two hospital security officers were put on guard outside the eighth floor unit where Mr Patten was being treated throughout the day. Notices were posted in lifts that all services on the eighth floor had been suspended and only official visitors were allowed.
About five to six plain-clothes police officers from Special Branch were seen patrolling the corridors and footbridges linking the block.
One officer said they were told to keep guard 24 hours a day because the Governor's wife, Mrs Lavender Patten, did not want Mr Patten to be disturbed.
Queen Mary doctors said only about 10 patients were affected by the move and that they had not received any complaints from them.
The patients all have poor immune systems after receiving bone marrow transplants to combat blood diseases.
The metabolic unit in the hospital's main block, currently undergoing renovation, was opened as a temporary ward for the bone marrow patients who were scheduled for regular follow-up checks yesterday morning.
Construction workers were seen transporting dirty wooden boards and other drilling equipment in the corridors beside the clinic.
Some patients complained they had to go through dusty corridors to the temporary centre and feared the polluted environment would affect their health.
Others claimed their own health could suffer because of special treatment being given to the Governor.
Patient Mr Derek Chu said he was not told of the new arrangement until he was stopped by security guards outside the bone marrow centre.
''I think the hospital should not move us to a ward in the main block. Renovation is underway and the corridors are filled with dust and noise of drills,'' he said.
''Bone marrow patients are particularly vulnerable and need special care. It would be a disaster to us if we were infected.'' Another patient, Ms May Lee, said she had to wait longer than usual for treatment yesterday but that she accepted the doctor's explanation.
''I think our health is no less important than the Governor's, but no consideration has been given to our condition,'' she said.
The hospital's chief executive, Dr Vivian Wong Chi-woon, dismissed the complaints and said the decision was made by the hospital after considering carefully the needs of the patients.
''We are not moving patients from one ward to another. We only asked the outpatients to go to another place to have their examination,'' Dr Wong said.
''We believe the temporary ward allows a more comfortable environment in which the patients will not be disturbed by the reporters who hang around in the Governor's block. And it is more spacious.''.
Dr Wong said doctors had agreed that the temporary arrangement would pose no health hazards.
Bone marrow outpatients are scheduled to return to the hospital for follow-up checks on Mondays and Thursdays.
In a statement released yesterday, Dr Wong further said: ''The aim was to minimise the disruption to the patients concerned.'' Doctors said the environment of the clinic was clean and spacious, adding it was not the first time they had decided to transfer patients from the original clinic.