Vachira Phuket Hospital doctor calls for microscope donations
Boonlert Sripairotkul, a Neurologist at Vachira Phuket Hospital, has posted a call for donations in order to purchase a new microscope for the hospital as the current machine has been used since 2002 and “produces strange noises”.
The 17 year old microscope has been used for brain, spinal cord and blood vessels operations.
The doctor told TheBangkokInsight that hospitals in the same area usually receive 50 million baht as an annual budget and each hospital must compete on presenting how necessary they need to spend the budget.
“This hospital also did the same in order to purchase a new microscope but we couldn’t get enough support as other hospitals also need the budget to spend on equipment that helps them save people as well.”
The price of a new microscope is quite high.
“One small microscope costs 18 million baht while the larger version costs 23 million baht, and that’s why the purchase has been suspended.”
The doctor said they have tried to do maintenance and in 2012, they found that the machine was already too old.
“It’s hard to find spare parts for it while the repair and maintenance costs have become more and more pricey.”
Another way they have tried is borrowing the machine from Patong Hospital as they don’t have any neurologists there. That’s the reason why patients from Patong Hospital are transferred to Vachira Hospital as well. The neurologist also has to share the machine with the orthopedic department.
“Many doctors, including me, have experienced the malfunctions of the machine. The noise is one thing but what’s more serious is the focus of the microscope that is not accurate anymore. When doing operations such as a brain operation, the focus is crucial.”
This is the reason why the doctor has had to post for donations. Vachira Phuket is the central hospital for provinces on the Andaman coast, such as Krabi, Ranong and Phang Nga as well as Patong Hospital. There are about 150 patients in need of operations per year. The budget is not enough for Vachira Hospital while the number of patients has increased, including tourists and foreign labourers.
“Many times, the hospital has to give free treatment as the patients say they have no money. When reporting to their embassy, the embassy only reply with a thank you letter.”
There are about 2,500 – 3,000 OPD per day at Vachira Hospital while last year there were about 1,000 OPD per day and the number tends to increase. The hospital is losing money, approximately 200 – 300 million baht each year and the doctor believes that Vachira is not the only place that is facing this. The doctor said that the co-payment system is the best long-term solution which helps indicate which patients are underprivileged and in need of support from the hospital.
He said that Artiwara ‘Toon’ Bodyslam has a program to help hospitals in Andaman coast this coming October. The director of the hospital asked if the microscope should be added in the list, which made him very happy, but it is not guaranteed how much Vachira Hospital would receive for the microscope as the donation will be spread among many hospitals in the area.
“We have tried asking for donations from businesses when our 4 elevators were broken all at the same time but the donations came with conditions for medical privileges.”
“I posted about this because I’m 51 years old. When I’m 55, I will be retired from this career. There will be 2 neurologist who will replace me. They are currently studying. I’m doing this for the next generation.”
UPDATE: The Ministry of Public Health is meeting with Dr. Boonlert Sripairotkul sometime soon. We will keep you up to date.
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