Nearly three years after it was shut down for supposed renovations, Phnom Penh’s Chamkar Mon Referral Hospital is still not operational and former staff say they have been left out in the cold about what will happen to the site.
Commune, district, municipal and national health officials have all refused to comment on the future of the hospital site, which occupies a prime slice of real estate on the corner of Norodom Boulevard and Street 294 and once provided Red Cross services.
Sok Sokhun, director of the Phnom Penh Municipal Health Department, denied that the building had been sold, but said he has no idea what it will be used for.
“I don’t know when it will finish being renovated and I don’t know the plans yet—let the top leaders and state develop it,” Mr. Sokhun said.
When asked if the health center had been sold to a private company, as some former staff have claimed, he replied only: “Don’t believe them. It is an issue of the state to develop it.”
“To reduce the state budget, we have cooperated with a private company to renovate the electrical and drainage systems to ensure the hospital is working well,” he added, but declined to give the company’s name.
Neither workers nor machinery have been seen on site for months, and it remains locked up.
According to a directive signed in April 2013 by the Council of Ministers, the Fay Sibleng Investment company had been contracted to develop the site, after another company, the Investment Viet-Cam Corporation, had its contract canceled for unspecified reasons.
Dr. Min Puthchethavann used to work at the health center, but has officially been in the employ of the Phnom Penh Municipal Referral Hospital since December 2013, along with about 20 other colleagues from Chamkar Mon.
He said the doctors had written to the Fay Sibleng company in mid-April seeking $2,000 each in compensation after Yim Deth, director of the Chamkar Mon operational district health office, suggested that they ask the company for a payout.
Mr. Deth could not be reached for comment, and Dr. Puthchethavann said the doctors had not yet had a response to their request.
Another doctor, speaking on condition of anonymity, said she heard the hospital building had been sold off.
“We know nothing about the health center, because they have never told us any information, but I think it will disappear,” she said.
“I heard they have sold the building, and we have been discouraged from working there.”