There are five doctors and 21 nurses now on staff, working out of the well-known blue building that has sat empty for well over a year, Chalong Hospital Director Dr Chuchart Nijwattana told The Phuket News this week.
“Only the ground floor and first floor are currently used by hospital staff. The top two floors remain unoccupied,” he said.
The location has long been known for providing basic healthcare services, with the small building beside the front of the hospital being the Chalong Subdistrict Health Promoting Centre. In late 2015, the Accident & Emergency Centre opened at the site when the decision was made to build a full hospital there.
Although the blue building, located nearly 200 metres north of Chalong Circle on Chao Fa East Rd, has been designated as the “OPD Building”, meaning it is intended to be dedicated for outpatient services only, Dr Chuchart noted there are limited inpatient services available.
“There are 14 beds already in place in the inpatient section in the building, which is open 24 hours,” he said.
“Our Physical Therapy section on the ground floor is open 8:30am-4pm, Monday to Friday, and on the second floor is the Dental Department and Blood Laboratory, both of which are also open 8:30am-4pm, Monday to Friday,” he added.
The services provided at the hospital began without fanfare on Oct 1, Dr Chuchart noted, despite him affirming as recently as May this year that the plan was to withhold from providing any inpatient medical services until a new seven-storey building had been completed.
“We had to deviate from that plan because I promised people that Chalong Hospital must open in October. So we now have outpatient and inpatient departments, dental and physical therapy departments and blood laboratory facilities,” he said this week.
However, he stressed, “All the departments currently in the outpatient building are there only temporarily. We will not expand or open any more services until the inpatient building is finished. I cannot confirm when that will be. I have to wait for approval first.
“Construction of the inpatient building has not even started yet. I am still waiting for the Budget Bureau to approve B153mn to expand the hospital with a seven-storey inpatient building with 156 beds. I expect the budget for this building to be approved in 2020. Once it has been approved, we can start the construction immediately,” he added.
Construction has even yet to begin for a separate two-story “x-ray room building” to be built from a B14mn donation from the administrators of the Put Cho Shrine. The donation includes paying for an x-ray machine.
“We are waiting for the Ministry of Health to approve the construction. I don’t know when they will grant their approval,” Dr Chuchart said.