THE CHA-AM HOSPITAL – Things May Be Changing.

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It’s fair to say, deserved or not, that the Cha –Am Hospital has an image problem.  Apart from the stories that are told (often second or third hand) which quickly circulate and perhaps grow out of perspective and context; it just doesn’t look good.

The hospital appears to be much like an older style country town hospital; Cha-Am isn’t like that anymore and further growth and development is happening every day!

However plans are afoot, with promised funding, to change that with a development program over the next three years.  Although the ASEAN future cannot be the ‘be all and end all’ of the stimulus for change, that’s part of the reason.

At a local level, this is the only hospital in Cha-Am.  In emergency situations there is a need for a Cha-Am critical care facility apart from the need to provide simple surgical procedures, diagnostic services and in-patient care.  An extra twenty minute drive to Hua-Hin may be the difference between life and death.

Cha-Am really needs a fully equipped and functional local hospital.  It’s currently very busy and straining at the seams.

However, on examination things aren’t as bad as the first appearances may suggest.  There are 24 hour emergency services although the lack of signage and visible directions for new admissions cannot be described as ‘user friendly’, especially for foreigners.  The admission staff is eager to understand what the health concern is and a welcoming smile on the face of the admissions officer was clear and genuine without any prompting from our reporters.  Apart from the common ‘bad news’ stories we have also been told by a former grateful foreign patient about real lifesaving intervention from the available emergency services.

The hospital spokesman Dr Prakasit Chomchuen (or Khun  Mhor Den as his is better known) is an orthopaedic specialist and the Deputy Director.   He completed his early medical training at the Chiang Mai University, his home City.  After working at various hospitals in Chang Rai and then completing specialist training at Rajavithi Hospital in Bangkok, he was appointed to his present position in October 2012.

The Hospital Director is Dr Panuwat Sapkiree, BA, MD.

Khun Mhor Den described the current staffing arrangements (around 100 in total) which include ten doctors ,including those with specialties in paediatrics and gynaecology apart from his own specialty. He talked about expansion plans to increase the bed capacity from the current 90 to 120.  He also described plans to enable minor surgical procedures and an overall ‘facelift’ over the next three years.   He understands that improvements are required, including the ability to communicate in English.

Khun Mhor Den is all too familiar with the common issues of motorbike accidents, gastric symptoms and dengue fever.  These are frequent health issues that he is confident that the hospital staff can manage in a professional and efficient manner.  Emergency admissions may take over an hour to attend however critical cases will always be prioritised with immediate care on hand.  And small reminder, if you can, don’t forget to bring your passport.

The most common given reason for motorbike accidents? – stray dogs!

Cha-Am Today hopes that our report may be a further stimulus for change, although recognising that in common with government medical services world-wide, funding will be an ongoing issue.

There also will always be room for sponsorship and community based financial and practical support.

For example, the Cha-Am Golf Club is currently raising funds for the latest model AED (Automated External Defibrillator to ensure that this device is more available for those suffering from potentially fatal heart failure symptoms.

Perhaps it’s time for other local organisations to become involved in supporting the hospital in the best interests of the Cha-Am community.

Footnote:  Our reporters noticed that the admission form for essential personal information requested upon attendance at the hospital is not well written and confusing in its English language content.  We have now forwarded a (suggested) ‘revised version’ as a small gesture towards helping the hospital ‘come of age’ and become a more respected community facility.  We hope that helps just a little!

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