City needs network of community hospitals like Singapore

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 November, 2016, 4:50pm
UPDATED : Friday, 04 November, 2016, 9:20pm

I read with interest the letter by clinical professor Albert Lee (“We need high-quality community-based care for Hong Kong’s ageing society”,;September 27).

I think a better solution would be to learn from the example of Singapore and to have community hospitals.

In Hong Kong, it is not unusual for the convalescent sick and aged to remain in wards in public hospitals as there is no one to look after them at home, and this is what usually leads to the shortage of beds in public hospitals.

However, if we had community hospitals in the city, intermediate health care for the convalescent sick and the elderly who do not require the care provided by general hospitals would then be available, thus helping to spread the load of the public hospitals.

Therefore, I urge the Hong Kong government to consider introducing community hospitals in the city, so as to spread the load of the accident and emergency units in the public hospitals. Private doctors could be hired to work in these community hospitals, if they were interested in the geriatric field of medicine.

The community hospitals could also have social workers. They could go to the homes of discharged patients on a regular basis, to educate them, their family members and caregivers on how to lower their risks of developing complications, how to live and maintain a healthier lifestyle, and how to modify such things as unhealthy behaviour.

Also, often when elderly citizens fall ill, because they are worried about their condition, they will immediately go to the accident and emergency department of a public hospital, as they do not know if the symptoms they are suffering from are a medical emergency or not.

Therefore, the government should consider distributing a booklet to community centres, all schools (including kindergarten, primary, secondary and university students) and each household. It would explain what is deemed an emergency and what is not, so that public hospitals will not face these common bottleneck scenarios.

Hopefully, as community hospitals come on line in Hong Kong, in the long run the shortage of ward beds caused by the elderly in the public hospitals will be alleviated.

Eunice Li Dan-yue, Causeway Bay