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Vietnam's oldest hospital strained without renovation

By Quynh Tran, Le Phuong   October 20, 2022 | 05:50 am PT
The 160-year-old Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases, a major public facility in southern Vietnam, has been degraded over time due to planning issues.
Vietnam's oldest hospital strained without renovation

HCMC Hospital for Tropical Diseases, Vietnam's oldest, was established in 1861 under the name Cho Quan.

In 1972, a six-floor building (white) was added to serve patients at the hospital, making it the most advanced healthcare facility in southern Vietnam. It now remains a leading hospital in the south, especially for treating infectious diseases like Covid-19 or monkeypox.

However, despite its key role, the hospital has been degraded over time, with overload remaining a common issue.

Vietnam's oldest hospital strained without renovation

The area for liver patients used to be the hospital yard, hence the remaining trees.

The yard has been modified to have prefabricated rooms and a roof.

Vietnam's oldest hospital strained without renovation

The Emergency Department covers less than 60 square meters and has just six beds compared to the standard 20 beds. Part of the hall in front of the department is modified into a room for screening patients for infectious diseases.

When Covid-19 was at its peak in the city last year, the hospital had to set up more beds along the hall due to the lack of space inside the emergency department. Accordingly, the hospital could not ensure social distancing among staff, with around 50 them contracting the disease at once last June due to cross-infection.

Vietnam's oldest hospital strained without renovation

Patients await health examination in the liver disease department.

Vietnam's oldest hospital strained without renovation

The skylight area of the hospital was covered up to create more space for patients and their families.

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

With 550 beds in total, yet it sometimes has to admit 800 patients, prompting it to place more beds along the hall or let two patients share a bed.

Vietnam's oldest hospital strained without renovation

Water leaks through the hospital’s ceiling.

Vietnam's oldest hospital strained without renovation

The hall is little more than one meter wide but is occupied by a lot of furniture due to a lack of storage space.

Vietnam's oldest hospital strained without renovation

Inside a consultation room where doctors receive patients.

Vietnam's oldest hospital strained without renovation

The hospital yard shows sign of cracking and possible subsidence.

In 2011, the city administration approved a new facility for the Department of Medical Examination, on land designated for a park.

After the park issue was sorted out in 2017, it was found out recently that the project would affect a national historic relic inside the hospital, which requires intervention from cultural authorities.

The issue has yet to be resolved.

Vietnam's oldest hospital strained without renovation

The hospital drainage system is cleared to avoid flooding during heavy rains.

"The hospital will mark its 160th anniversary next month but the city's promise to give it a new Medical Examination Department on the 150th anniversary has yet to come into reality," said Le Manh Hung, the hospital's deputy director.

"I will retire soon and the thing I would regret most is that I could not do anything to get that department for the hospital so that we can serve patients better and deserve the position of a frontline hospital," he said.

 
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