Hospitals Allowed To Stay Open for 3 More Weeks

The two private hospitals in Phnom Penh ordered to shut down Friday for alleged violations of the health code were given a three-week grace period to wrap up operations, a municipal health department official said Monday.

The reprieve was granted at the request of the Tong Sing Clinic and Jean Ay Hospital, which asked to stay open to treat patients admitted before the closure order was issued, said Dam Phal, private-service bureau chief at the Phnom Penh Health Department.

Hospital representatives signed documents promising to close by Feb 5, he said. “They must make sure that they do not take [new] patients in,” Dam Phal added.

The hospitals were ordered to close last week following various allegations of wrongdoing including operating businesses without proper licenses; employing too few Cambodian staff; and transporting patients from accident scenes in private ambulances, according to the health department.

Managers of the Taiwanese-owned Jean Ay Hospital on Noro­dom Boulevard in Chamkar Mon district and Chinese-owned Tong Sing Clinic on Sihanouk Boulevard in Daun Penh district could not be reached for comment Monday.

By Monday morning, Jean Ay Hospital had removed the sign on its building, but Tong Sing was operating as usual.

A nurse at Tong Sing, who declined to be named, said that the clinic has not closed, but they had stopped taking patients by ambulance from accident scenes.

On Nov 29, the Health Ministry issued a statement forbidding private ambulances at accidents.

Only state-run Calmette, Preah Kossamak and the Cambodian-Soviet Friendship hospitals can send ambulances to accident scenes, said ministry officials.

Tith Sour Sdey, deputy chief of regulations and ethics at the municipal health department, said that the 12 ambulances belonging to state-run hospitals in Phnom Penh are able to meet the needs of the municipality, and that private ambulances caused “anarchy” at accident scenes by competing for victims.

“Private clinics competed with each other to take patients from the scenes, so we banned them,” he said.

Sann Socheata, Road Safety Program manager at Handicap International, said that public ambulances are preferable to private ones because they are cheaper and adhere to government standards of care. But with only 32 percent of traffic-accident victims being transported to hospitals by public or private ambulances, Cambodia currently needs all the emergency vehicles it can get, Sann Socheata said.

(Additional reporting by Elizabeth Tomei)    


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