Professor Leong says a pragmatic management style, calm approach and ‘can-do’ attitude will help ensure that all the initiatives under the Action Plan developed in response to HA Review are successfully implemented.

John Leong Chi-yan: Reflecting back on 25 years

Hospital Authority (HA) Chairman Professor John Leong Chi-yan is more qualified than most to reflect on HA’s development during the past quarter of a century. He began his association with the Authority on its establishment in 1990 as a first-term HA Board Member, and has maintained an active involvement in its evolution over the years, culminating in his re-appointment as HA Chairman for another two years following his first stewardship in December 2013. As HA embarks on a year-long celebration of its 25th anniversary, Professor Leong shares his feelings about watching HA grow and tackling future challenges in working to uphold the Authority’s mission of ‘Helping People Stay Healthy’ in Hong Kong.

“The demand for public healthcare services is continually increasing,” says Professor Leong. “In trying to meet this ongoing challenge with limited resources, it is vital that all of us at HA keep an open mind in the search for effective solutions. The adoption of new service models, enhancing the clinical skills of healthcare workers, leveraging new technology – these are just a few of the ways in which we may expand and strengthen our service capabilities.”

Professor Leong notes that there were only four new public hospitals (North District Hospital, Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital, North Lantau Hospital and Tseung Kwan O Hospital) came into service since HA’s establishment in 1990, with two more (Tin Shui Wai Hospital and Hong Kong Children’s Hospital) coming on stream in one or two years. “The expansion in the number of patient beds cannot keep up with the increase in demand,” he says. “If, for example, we can leverage technology to conduct more minimally invasive surgeries, we can reduce the length of inpatient stays for many procedures. In hospital constructions or redevelopment, building rehabilitation blocks next to acute inpatient wards would allow for the prompt transfer of stable patients to rehabilitation facilities, thus reducing the pressure on acute wards.”

Professor Leong explains that while the demand for public healthcare services is growing, HA still handles close to 90% of inpatient healthcare needs in Hong Kong with a budget that is equivalent to just 2.5% of the city’s GDP, adding that all HA colleagues should be “very proud of this achievement”.

But he emphasises that for HA to maintain its status as a leading public healthcare provider and continue to deliver world-class medical services, there is always room to improve and the Authority must never stand still. His more immediate future plans include strengthening specialist training for young doctors and encouraging more experienced doctors to continue undertaking professional training. He also encourages clinicians to obtain credentialing on the use of new procedures particularly new medical technologies. Efforts will also be focused on strengthening clinical research and innovation. “The data collected through our excellent Clinical Management System, which was developed by our in-house IT team, is supporting our daily clinical works, as well as our efforts to make advances through clinical research,” he says.

On a broader level, he regards the implementation of the more than 100 actions in three years contained in the Action Plan drawn up in response to the Government’s Report of the Steering Committee on Review of Hospital Authority as among the vital current missions for HA.

“The establishment of HA was a major milestone in the provision of public healthcare services in Hong Kong. It is relatively rare to have a statutory body take over the management of all public hospitals and institutions from the Government and subvented organisations,” says Professor Leong. “While this has been a great responsibility, our size and relative autonomy have proved advantageous in developing our services. Combined with the dedication and professionalism of my colleagues, I am confident that HA will continue to successfully deal with new challenges and to provide outstanding healthcare services to the people of Hong Kong.”

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Leung was making special aprons for young patients when AHNH set up its pediatric wards in 1998.

Leung was making special aprons for young patients when AHNH set up its pediatric wards in 1998.

Machinist a true part of HA fabric

Even among those colleagues who have been with the Hospital Authority for decades, only a few will likely be aware of the job of ‘machinist’. Yet those individuals who hold this largely unknown position play an important supporting role at the Authority. Armed with her sewing machine and experienced seamstress’ eye, Leung Hang-choi has used her stitching skills for a diverse range of tasks at HA during the past 25 years.

Leung joined Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital (AHNH) on 13 December 1990 when it was still located on Bonham Road and went with the hospital when it moved from Hong Kong Island to Tai Po in 1997. Every day, she will sew or repair as many as 50 items, which may include staff work clothing, inpatient clothing, bedding and other fabric items.

Leung says that sewing is a skilled craft that requires continuous practice. During her early years with the hospital, Leung made almost everything – from patients’ clothes to the curtains in her office. Over time, as the hospital began to outsource more of its clothes-making needs, her work shifted to focus more on repairs. Leung adds that one positive change over time has been the improvement in safety features on sewing machines, which have significantly reduced the risk of injuries.

Although Leung is not involved in frontline healthcare, she still has to handle ‘emergencies’ from time to time. In one instance, she helped save the day for a doctor who needed to replace some buttons that had fallen off his gown just minutes before he was due to attend an important ceremony.

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Kenneth finds new recipe for
job satisfaction

After working as a medical laboratory technician at Princess Margaret Hospital for a year, Kenneth Yeung decided to follow his heart and retrain for a healthcare career that would provide more personal interactions with patients. With support from the Hospital Authority scholarship programme, he went to the UK in 1992 to train as a dietitian and returned to Hong Kong in 1993 to join Tuen Mun Hospital.

Since then, his vocation has brought him into contact with patients from departments ranging from pediatrics to geriatrics and surgery. He currently works with psychiatric patients at Castle Peak Hospital and is studying counseling with the aim of improving the nourishment of patients in both body and mind.

A healthy diet is an integral part of Yeung’s daily life. He focuses on the principles of ‘more vegetables, less meat and oil, and more home cooking’, but adds that certain individuals may have more specialised requirements. “Milk is good for elderly patients who often need extra calcium. Psychiatric patients who take a lot of prescription drugs may need help to manage their weight and blood lipid levels. Individuals dealing with depression not only do physical exercise to generate more happy hormone endorphins but also take in adequate amount of nuts, beans and meat which can generate serotonin and dopamine.”

The time he was asked to help care for a prematurely born baby is the moment that sticks most in his mind from his 25 years with HA. “I was very concerned about risks associated with neo-natal malnutrition,” he recalls. “I visited him almost every day to check his weight and monitor his condition. Eventually, he began to gain weight at a healthy rate. The day he could go home to his parents was a very happy one.”

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Doctor’s birthday wish: benefit from more manpower

“Although I have only been working for the Hospital Authority for about 18 months, the team spirit and sense of responsibility among my colleagues are very impressive. Regardless of position, all of us work together wholeheartedly to provide our best care to patients.” Dr Isaac Li works in the Department of Medicine & Geriatrics at Tuen Mun Hospital (TMH) and is just a couple of weeks older than HA.

Dr Li has also worked in the surgical and orthopaedics departments, but he finally chose the medicine as his area of specialty. “The correct medications may help patients in the acute phase and in the long run. I am delighted to see those chronically ill regaining their health and quality of life from our treatment.”

Dr Li’s most cherished memory in HA is when he received a thank-you card from the relative of a terminal cancer patient. “The patient was admitted to acute medical ward for deterioration in general conditions and refused eating for few days. I suggested giving milk via a feeding tube to provide her adequate nutrition,” he says. “Her family initially rejected the idea, but I spent some time explaining the pros and cons and they eventually agreed our plan. The patient’s conditions improved and she was later taken over by oncology colleague to continue treatment at the hospice ward to fight against her cancer.” Dr Li adds that this experience taught him the importance of effective communication between doctors and the families of patients.

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TWH nurse celebrates birthday with HA!

“It’s amazing that the Hospital Authority and I share the same date of birth and now I work for HA – my chosen career as a nurse was clearly destined to be!”

Born at Prince of Wales Hospital on 1 December 1990, Lau Ho-fung has worked as a registered nurse in the medicine department in Tung Wah Hospital (TWH) for just over a year. She expresses great enthusiasm about her job and great respect for her colleagues. “The doctors here don’t put on airs or graces, the senior nurses are willing to teach new recruits and the healthcare assistants are very helpful.”

As a relative newcomer, Ho-fung says that she doesn’t yet have one standout memory. However, she says she clearly remembers a case of having to deal with unhappy or upset members of patients’ families as these are emotional moments. “It happened when two Healthcare Assistants making casual remarks about another colleague when helping a patient to clean her body. The patient however misunderstood that the healthcare workers were blaming on her. As such, she felt very upset and lodged a complaint to the hospital.” Ho-fung found out the truth and explained to the patient and eventually settled the case. This incident inspired her that good communication is important as open and honest dialogues can always resolve misunderstanding.

As to why she wanted to become a nurse, she says “ nurse can let you witness the start and end of life as well as everything in-between and is the first people to welcome newborns into the world, and take care those who are coming to the end of their life’s journey. Thus, I think nursing is a very meaningful job”.

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