The Health Ministry yesterday issued its decision to close Victoria hospital in Tuol Kork district after the hospital was accused of detaining a patient whose family was unable to pay for surgery.
In a letter, Health Minister Mam Bunheng said the hospital was shuttered yesterday because it failed to comply with ministry and professional standards, notably in the handling of its patients.
On Saturday, Mouy Heang was admitted to the hospital after an initial examination found that she had uterine fibroids. Hospital staffers told her family that she was in dire need of an operation.
On Sunday morning, Ms Heang entered the operating room of the hospital in order to have the fibroids removed.
On Sunday evening, Ms Heang’s family was told to pay $2,000 for the surgery. However, the family members were only able to pay $600 and the rest shall be paid in instalments.
“The price of the operation was $4,000, but the hospital only required us to pay 50 percent – which is $2,000,” said the sister of Ms Heang on Facebook Live on Sunday. “We told them we only had $600 and the rest will be paid in instalments, but the hospital did not agree.”
“They locked my sister inside the hospital for more than two hours,” she added. “The hospital only agreed to open the door after local authorities intervened.”
Captain Kan Kunteth, chief of Boeng Kak Pi commune police, said Doctor Sieng Sokun and eight hospital staffers were questioned by police over the detention of Ms Heang.
“Police questioned them over the detention of the family member inside the hospital because her family did not have enough money to pay for the operation,” Cap Kunteth said. “Police are working by questioning people accused of extorting the patient.”
Ngy Mean Heng, director of the municipal health department, and ministry spokesman Or Vandin could not be reached for comment yesterday. However, Ms Vandin was quoted by local media yesterday confirming the closure of Victoria hospital.
“The Health Minister ordered for the closure of Victoria hospital as an investigation is being conducted over the detention of a patient who did not have money to pay the hospital fee,” she said.
In other news, the Health Ministry has announced that it is planning to upgrade health posts in remote locations throughout the Kingdom in a bid to improve equipment and conditions as many only have about three or four staffers.
Ms Vandin yesterday said on Facebook Live that there are 118 federal hospitals, 1,207 health centres and 117 health posts throughout the country. She noted that most health posts cater to people living in remote areas and would often be under-staffed.
Ms Vandin said the ministry is looking to give more access to those in need of medical attention in rural areas.
“We are lacking in human resources and budget to create health centres in communes,” she said. “The ministry is preparing to upgrade the quality of services offered at health posts.”
She noted that up to 85 percent of patients in rural areas would usually travel to the nearest health centre instead of going to the nearest health post.
“They live there so they need to be able to access what is closest to them first,” Ms Vandin said. “The ministry must improve the quality of health posts.”