Holistic care facility offers 'third choice'
Haven of Hope Christian Services' board is discussing a plan to build a HK$1 billion holistic care complex, the group's chief executive says.
The facility, which could be put into service within five years, was expected to add 300 beds to the existing 400, Dr Lam Ching-choi said. Building could begin once the organisation attracted enough donations, as it already owned adequate land for the expansion, Lam said.
The fee for a private holistic care space operated by a branch of the organisation would be about HK$40,000 per month, he said, a third what private hospitals charge.
The charges would be used to subsidise the free services Haven of Hope provided, such as spiritual advice and elderly care, Lam said.
There was keen demand for holistic care the organisation provided, as it gave patients a third choice instead of the congested public health care system and expensive private hospitals, he said.
Public hospitals are facing a shortage of medical staff, who need to work overtime as a result, and patients often have to tolerate long delays before receiving treatment.
The government is putting forward several measures to prevent overreliance on the public sector, including releasing land for the development of private hospitals and making plans for health care reform.
But Lam said the third medical sector - meaning Schedule II hospitals, which are run by the Hospital Authority but belong to a partner, usually a non-governmental organisation - should be brought into the picture to achieve a balance.
'There should be better policy planning for the third sector to shoulder part of the burden of demand on mainstream public hospitals,' Lam said.
'For example, it is very costly for a stroke patient to occupy an acute bed in a main hospital for several months. The third sector can offer better after-care service while allowing a better allocation of medical resources.'
He saw increasing demand for such service in the future, despite the arrival of new private facilities.
'I do not see them as competitors at all, as the money-making hospitals will not cater to the demand for holistic care,' Lam said.
'Only non-governmental organisations that are committed to serving the community would be interested in running the service. The more hospitals that come into the area, the more the referrals.'
Hong Kong plans to build four new private hospitals with at least two in Kowloon East. A site in Tseung Kwan O has been reserved by the government for open tender for a new private hospital, and another private hospital, the Clearwater Bay hospital in Sai Kung, is scheduled to be completed in 2014.
The number of in-patient discharges at public hospitals in 2009/10, against 367,000 at private hospitals