The issue of residents campaigning against the demolition of the “Boonphat Building” by Vachira Hospital has gone viral after being posted on Facebook by Watanyoo Thephuttee and the local culture office with a message asking people to join the campaign to save the classic building which was built in the reign of King Rama VI.
Mr Chaiyuth Thonglim, on behalf of the Director of Vachira Hospital Phuket, said yesterday (Aug 26) that the hospital received a 2016 budget of B303 million from the Ministry of Public Health to construct a new building which would house 298 beds to accommodate patients.
“Initially the construction of the new building was set to start in October with its location being near the laundry and kitchen facilities, but after surveying the area it was found to be unsuitable.
“To put the new building there would mean removing large rocks using explosives, this would require a higher budget. In addition, the explosion process will affect the environment and is against the law,” he said.
“The hospital’s management then agreed to change the location of the new building to where the Boonphat Building stands. This is an old out patient building that is no longer in use. This decision was opposed by many residents and other people including hospital staff as it would mean removing the Boonphat Building and uprooting old mahogany trees.
“To find a solution to this, the hospital’s management has set up a committee comprising of doctors, officials from Region 15 Office of the Fine Arts Department, and forestry department.
“Representative from Ministry of Public Health will also inspect the original location choice to see if the rock removing issue can be resolved,” he added.
“If no solution is found our last option is to build a new building at Chalong Hospital which will have doctors and nurses from Vachira.
“We will find a solution by the end of September. However, if these three plans do not work out then we will have to return the B303mn budget to the Ministry of Public Health,” he concluded.
Vachira Hospital Deputy Director Doctor Weerasak Lohthongkam added that he and many staff disagree with the idea of demolishing the Boonphat Building and cutting down all ancient trees and replacing them with a modern building.
“We are not against any construction of a new building, but we want authorities to consider adjusting their project design so that it will not affect the classic building or destroy the trees that provide shade at the hospital,” he said.