The developer of a new hospital in the southern province of An Giang is taking its medicine after spending nearly US$60 million on making it the biggest and most modern of its kind in the Mekong Delta.
The VND1,306 billion ($58.3 million), ten-story An Giang General Hospital was inaugurated in April, with 600 beds and modern equipment on a 13,000 square meter land plot in the provincial capital of Long Xuyen.
The modern hospital was upgraded and given a full facelift from an older, smaller facility.
However, as a multimillion-dollar clinic requires expensive operational costs, the board of directors are struggling with the finances to keep it running.
The hospital has a major air-conditioning system that brings cool air to every single room and sickbed, and a number of escalators and elevators.
While its facilities are convenient for everyone, the convenience stops when it comes to footing the bill.
“With all of the modern equipment in service, we pay VND100 million [$4,464] in power costs per day, so the monthly electricity bill alone is VND3 billion [$133,929],” the deputy director of the hospital, Nguyen Triet Hien, said.
An official directs a patient to use the modern elavator at An Giang Hospital.
The director, Nguyen Thi Hanh, added that they had to exercise thrift by “turning off some lights, having only one elevator in service during office hours, and powering off the air-conditioning system in several areas.”
“Even so, the power bill is still six times higher than before,” she said.
Other costs are also much higher than the old facility.
The hospital now needs some VND6 billion ($267,857) a year to pay cleaning staff, and nearly VND2 billion ($89,286) for security guards, not to mention wages for the medical staff.
Director Hanh admitted that the hospital’s monthly expense is usually more than VND10 billion ($446,429), compared to total revenue of between VND9 billion ($401,786) and VND10 billion.
But it is not easy to increase revenue at a hospital.
The number of patients failed to increase along with the facility’s amenity and modernity.
The clinic still receives some 800 to 900 inpatients on a daily basis, but cannot charge them higher fees.
“Despite the upgraded scale, An Giang Hospital is still a province-level infirmary, and is therefore required to apply the same pricing scheme as before,” Tu Quoc Tuan, director of the provincial health department, explained.