Friday, July 07, 2006

Last non-profit hospital may have to close

Star: PUTRAJAYA: It opens its door to the poor, charging only RM9 for patients receiving treatment at its clinic and RM280 for the delivery of babies in its common ward.
But if things don’t turn around soon for the Negri Sembilan Chinese Maternity Hospital and Medical Centre in Seremban, this door may have to close.
This may spell the end of an era of non-profit hospitals established by the Chinese community for the poor.
Hospital president Datuk Kan Kok Kwan said every effort should be made to save and preserve the heritage of the hospital, which was established back in 1932.
“We should conserve our history and heritage, and defend the pride of the Malaysian Chinese community, which has demonstrated its loyalty to the country by operating these hospitals,” he said in an interview.
“Our hospital is probably the only remaining and last of the Chinese maternity hospitals in the country.”
At one time, there were five such hospitals.
The Perak Chinese Maternity Hospital is now known as the Perak Community Specialist Hospital while that in Kuala Lumpur along Jalan Pudu has signed a pact to form a smart partnership with Tung Shin Hospital.
Another of the hospitals established by the community is Lam Wah Ee Hospital in Penang.
Kan said it was difficult for hospitals now to find benefactors although the Chinese community had been known to be generous when donating funds for causes like education.
“We have been running our hospital using our reserve funds to meet with financial demands for a few years now,” he said.
“Our overhead per day runs up to RM7,000 but our collection barely covers that.
“Last year, we received donations amounting to RM70,000. But we subsidised our medicine at a cost of RM30,000 per year.
“In 1997, we had 1,980 deliveries in this hospital. Last year, we only had 441 births.”
Similarly, in-patients had also declined from 5,206 back in 1997 to 2,627 last year.
Even the hospital’s once popular delivery package of only RM280, which comes with four meals a day, had only seen one or two patients trickling in each month.
“We also face problems of poor patients who cannot settle their bills. Some of the healthcare companies, which our patients have signed up with, have closed down and this makes it difficult for us to claim monies,” he said.
Kan was commenting on reports that non-profit hospitals were struggling to survive as the number of patients seeking treatment at such institutions was dropping drastically.
The hospital now has 110 staff, mainly trained nurses, and three doctors, and another 32 consultants and specialists on its panel.

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