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Vietnam’s oldest hospital sees poor infrastructure as renovation on hold

Vietnam’s oldest hospital sees poor infrastructure as renovation on hold

Wednesday, October 26, 2022, 11:28 GMT+7
Vietnam’s oldest hospital sees poor infrastructure as renovation on hold
This photo shows the entrance of the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Doctors have endured working in narrow spaces and patients have become familiar with subpar facilities at the 161-year-old Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases, a major public medical establishment in southern Vietnam.

Located in District 5, the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases was established in 1861 as Cho Quan Hospital.

It has since operated as a leading hospital in the south, especially for treating infectious diseases.

Cars are parked next to the makeshift lounge of the on-demand clinic at the medical examination department of the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Cars are parked next to the makeshift lounge of the on-demand clinic at the medical examination department of the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

The Vietnam Record Organization (VietKings) recently recognized it as the oldest hospital in the country, with an official recognition ceremony scheduled for next month.

However, despite its key role, the hospital has been left in a makeshift state and in dire need of renovation due to slow planning progress.

Patients wait for health checks at the medical examination department of the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Patients wait for health checks at the medical examination department of the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

The examination department is often fully filled with patients, who sometimes have to stand waiting for their turn as there are not enough seats.

Its rooms are quite narrow, just some 10 square meters each, and only enough for setting up a table, three chairs, and a bed.

A doctor examines a child patient in a narrow room at the medical examination department of the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

A doctor examines a child patient in a narrow room at the medical examination department of the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Its on-demand clinic specializing in liver and parasite diseases is not much better either as the hospital had to take advantage of a green area to set up a waiting lounge using corrugated iron sheets.

The emergency department covers less than 60 square meters and has just six beds compared to the standard 20 beds.

A child patient and his mother have to take the stairs as there are no elevators at a department of the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

A child patient and his mother have to take the stairs as there are no elevators at a department of the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Some multistory departments also have no elevators, with the ground floor only saved for the elderly, patients in wheelchairs or with limited mobility.

The hospital has also made use of the halls to place more beds and furniture due to a lack of space, while the open-air area is covered up to create more space for patients and their families.

Patients wait for health checks at a prefabricated space, where a tree still remains, at the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Patients wait for health checks at a prefabricated space, where a tree remains, at the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

On average, the hospital receives up to 3,000 patients coming for health checks per day.

With the deterioration, crowding remains a common issue at the hospital.

Patients wait for health checks at a prefabricated space, where a tree still remains, at the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Patients wait for health checks at a prefabricated space, where a tree remains, at the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Twelve years ago, the city administration approved the construction of new facilities for the degraded departments and clinics on a vacant lot.

However, the project has made no progress so far.

Tangled electric wires are seen outside a room at the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Tangled electric wires are seen outside a room at the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

During a recent interview with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, Le Manh Hung, the hospital’s deputy director, expressed his sorrow that he could do nothing to improve the situation.

“I’m very upset to see the staff and patients enduring such an awful environment,” Hung said.

Patients wait for health checks at the medical examination department of the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Patients wait for health checks at the medical examination department of the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

“Like the previous generations of leaders of the hospital, I expect the renovation to be carried out soon so that we can serve patients better and deserve the position of a frontline hospital.”

Dr. Le Manh Hung, deputy director of the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases, shows a planning drawing for the construction of new facilities. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

Dr. Le Manh Hung, deputy director of the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases, shows a planning drawing for the construction of new facilities. Photo: Duyen Phan / Tuoi Tre

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