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Thursday, Apr 25, 2024

Hong Kong’s health chief demands report after hospital flooding amid downpour

Hong Kong’s health chief demands report after hospital flooding amid downpour

Three-hour suspension of some services at Tuen Mun Hospital on Saturday due to flooding resulted in longer waiting times and patients being diverted to other sites.

Hong Kong’s health chief has demanded a report from the Hospital Authority (HA) after some emergency services at a major public facility in the New Territories were suspended due to flooding following Saturday’s downpour.

“We are very concerned about the situation, especially when the rainy season is approaching,” Secretary for Health Lo Chung-mau said on Sunday, a day after Tuen Mun Hospital flooded amid the city’s first amber rainstorm warning of the year.

“We have to ensure hospitals are safe, not only during rainy and typhoon seasons but also at other times. The HA will ensure repair work is done properly, and the [Health Bureau] has asked them to submit a report to ensure services will not be affected.”

Secretary for Health Lo Chung-mau.

Photos from a local media outlet showed cleaners and medical staff mopping the hospital floors while repair workers sealed off areas affected by the flooding, which began at 1pm on Saturday.

A spokesman for the hospital said the flooding had affected the site’s resuscitation room, clinical areas in the accident and emergency unit, as well as partly covering the operation theatre block’s ground floor, affecting accident and emergency services.

Twelve patients who called for ambulance services had to be diverted to Pok Oi Hospital and Tin Shui Wai Hospital for treatment, while anyone who went to Tuen Mun Hospital’s emergency unit by themselves endured longer waiting times.

“The hospital expresses its apologies to patients for the inconvenience caused,” the spokesman said.

A worker stands by a sealed-off section of Tuen Mun Hospital on Saturday.

Hong Kong Patients’ Voices chairman Alex Lam Chi-yau, who described the incident as unusual, said: “[Saturday] was simply an amber rainstorm, we also have red and black rainstorms.”

Under the Hong Kong Observatory’s rainstorm warning system, black is considered the highest alert level, followed by red and amber.

“I was a bit surprised this happened to one of our public hospitals, Tuen Mun Hospital is a [leading] hospital in the New Territories West cluster,” he said.

The flooding could also have caused damage to surfaces at the hospital, posing risks to patients and staff, Lam added.

Emergency services at the hospital resumed following the completion of emergency repair works at 4pm.

The Post has reached out to Tuen Mun Hospital for comment, while the authority said it had no further details to add at present.

Parts of Hong Kong were also flooded during Saturday’s rainstorm, while more rain and cloudy weather are expected in the week ahead.

The Observatory said the city would experience one or two patches of rain in the coming couple of days.

Temperatures would increase, along with a few showers, during the middle and latter parts of this week, the city’s forecaster added.

Earlier this month, authorities ordered inspections at the city’s public hospitals to check all ceiling hoists for lifting patients after an external cover fell off one device at Tuen Mun Hospital.

The authority said no patients or staff were injured during the incident, but use of the hoist model in question had been suspended immediately.


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