Private hospital offers beds to help overcrowding in Hong Kong’s public wards – but may not take effect till after flu crisis

Tsuen Wan Adventist Hospital could give out 30 of its cheaper beds under scheme to help relieve overcrowding amid a flu crisis

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 August, 2017, 8:46pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 August, 2017, 4:02pm

Tsuen Wan Adventist Hospital could give out half its 60 cheaper beds to accommodate patients from public hospitals under a scheme to help relieve overcrowding amid a flu crisis.

But the latest arrangement with Tsuen Wan Adventist – the second private hospital to take part in the scheme after St Teresa’s Hospital in Kowloon City – might not take effect during the current summer flu crisis, which has so far recorded 484 severe flu cases, including 332 deaths.

“The number of flu cases might have already reached its peak and be dropping gradually,” said Alex Lan, president and CEO of Tsuen Wan Adventist. “But if there is a need to [utilise beds in private hospitals] next time, the arrangement could be activated quickly.”

The hospital is to meet representatives from the Food and Health Bureau, the Hospital Authority and the Department of Health on Wednesday to finalise the deal, which would take reference from the arrangement with St Teresa’s.

The authority announced the bed-sharing scheme last month after Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor paid a surprise visit to Queen Elizabeth Hospital and asked top officials to come up with measures to ease the overcrowding problems.

Under the scheme with St Teresa’s, transferred patients had to pay the same price charged by public hospitals – HK$120 per day – to stay at the private hospital.

The number of flu cases might have already reached its peak and be dropping gradually
Tsuen Wan Adventist Hospital CEO Alex Lan

But bed rates under the scheme with Tsuen Wan Adventist were still to be confirmed, as the hospital currently charges HK$100 per day for its 60 cheaper beds. The beds were set up in accordance with the conditions of its land grant.

Lan believed patients from Pok Oi Hospital in Yuen Long could be included in the scheme because of its overcrowdedness.

Latest statistics showed Pok Oi had the most crowded medical ward among the city’s public hospitals on Monday, with a bed occupancy rate of 126 per cent – far higher than the city’s overall rate of 107 per cent. A total of 1,022 people were admitted to the city’s public medical wards through emergency rooms on Monday.

An authority spokesman said it had been discussing with other private hospitals possible collaborations to support bed demands at public hospitals.

Meanwhile, Tsuen Wan Adventist was expected each day to take up to 700 outpatients – 200 more than it was previously taking – after a revamp of its outpatient clinic. The hospital’s 24-hour priority care centre would begin urgent care services from October, with specialists in emergency medicine offering services from 8am to midnight in the first phase.