The Ministry of Health formally closed two well-known Phnom Penh private hospitals on the morning of Jan 12, although by late afternoon one of the clinics was still operating.
The Taiwanese-owned Jean Ay Clinic located on Norodom Boulevard in Chamkar Mon district and the Chinese-owned Tong Sing clinic located on Sihanouk Boulevard in Daun Penh were closed, Sann Sary, the director of the ministry’s hospital department confirmed.
“They do not have licenses and the [doctors] are all Chinese nationals coming to do business without certificates,” he said.
Jean Ay’s branch on National Route 6A in Russei Keo district was closed Jan 9 for operating without a license.
Also cited by health officials as a reason for closing the clinics was their practice of retrieving traffic accident victims via ambulance—a power granted only to three major public hospitals in Phnom Penh.
However, displayed on the wall of Jean Ay Clinic on Jan 12 was a framed letter signed by Chamkar Mon deputy district police chief Heang Thareth announcing that municipal traffic police have agreed to funnel crash victims to Jean Ay.
“The Chamkar Mon district police station cooperates with Jean Ay Clinic to give information of every injury and patient from traffic accidents…to be treated at Jean Ay Clinic,” the November 2005 letter states.
Uch Sokhon, district police chief, said it was not wrong for his deputy to sign such an agreement with the medical clinic.
Sann Sary said that the police officer’s letter was a “severe mistake” because private ambulances are not allowed to retrieve victims.
“The [Health] Ministry never allowed them to do business like that,” he said.
Jean Ay staffer Vong Thuon said Friday that his boss had told him to inform the public that the clinic is being closed for repairs and he initially claimed that Jean Ay had not had any patients for several weeks.
But confronted with the fact that a man named Bou Tong Ieng, 44, was known to have died at the clinic on Jan 10, Vong Thuon changed his story: “His lung was all destroyed, how could he not have died,” he said.
A Chinese staffer at Tong Sing on the afternoon of Jan 12 said that staff were working as normal and he was not aware of any closure.
Sann Sary said that he could not explain why the clinic was still operating even though a letter to close it had been issued earlier in the day.