Disadvantaged to benefit when historic tenement becomes medical centre

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 February, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 February, 2009, 12:00am

Lui Seng Chun, one of the city's oldest surviving Chinese tenement houses, will be the site of pro bono Chinese medical consultations for CSSA recipients after its revitalisation, operators from Baptist University said yesterday.

The four-storey building in Sham Shui Po will become a Chinese medicine and health care centre, according to a proposal by the university, which won a bid this week to run the site under the government's heritage revitalisation scheme.

'We take this as an opportunity to contribute to society,' Wendy Hsiao Wen-luan, associate dean of the university's school of Chinese medicine, told the media at the site.

CSSA recipients will get a consultation at the internal medicine clinic and two doses of herbal medicine free, she said, adding that the centre would appeal for donations for support.

'About 20 per cent of consultation hours and certain weekends will be devoted to the purpose,' said associate professor Bian Zhaoxing.

The centre, which is expected to treat 80 patients a day and be staffed by five practitioners, will operate for about 10 hours on weekdays and four on Saturdays and Sundays. It will offer internships to students and training courses to practitioners.

Professor Bian said the ground floor would be 'for the community', with an activity centre, a herbal tea shop and a pharmacy.

A reception, clinics for acupuncture, medicine and bone-setting, and a seminar room will take up other floors.

The roof will become a herbal garden with plants such as roses and peonies. The deep balconies on three floors - the key feature of the grade-one historic building, which has an art deco architectural style - will become waiting rooms and public spaces to display the history of the shophouse and Chinese medicine.

They will be fitted with windows to reduce the noise from heavy traffic along Lai Chi Kok Road.

The project requires government subsidies of HK$24.8 million for the renovations and HK$2.6 million for its operation.

The building was built in 1931 by Lui Leung, a KMB founder, who ran a bone-setting shop on the ground floor and lived with his family upstairs. His descendants donated the building to the government in 2003.

His grandson, Tim Lui Tim-leung, welcomed the pro bono idea, saying: 'I look forward to the day when the doors are open to the public.'