GEORGE TOWN: All 10 operating theatres at the Penang Hospital are expected to run at full capacity from next month – after an 18-month delay.
Work on the RM15 million upgrade was slated for completion and resumption of operations in February last year, but as a result of design and technical setbacks, only five were ready as scheduled.
Penang state executive councillor for health, Dr Afif Bahardin, said all medical and surgical equipment are ready for final inspection and approval from the relevant authorities, including the Penang City Council.
The 165-year-old hospital also serves as a referral hospital for the northern region.
The backlog of cases will be dealt with swiftly, he said after inspecting the new operating theatres yesterday.
The five theatres that resumed operations earlier caters to emergencies and major surgeries.
Patients who require invasive procedures are referred by the district hospitals on the mainland – Kepala Batas, Bukit Mertajam and Seberang Jaya – to the Penang Hospital.
The delay had been a major inconvenience for patients, especially those from the lower income group and senior citizens who make up the bulk of those seeking treatment at public hospitals.
Most cannot afford to seek treatment at private hospitals.
Earlier, Penang Hindu Sangam deputy president P. Murugiah said Penang was known as an international medical tourism hub, yet it could not cater to its own people’s needs.
Afif said the public healthcare services should improve once the upgrading works are completed.
He also apologised for the inconvenience caused.