Sunway expanding, plans new hospitals in Cheras and Penang

PETALING JAYA: Sunway Bhd will build two new hospitals in Sunway Velocity in Cheras and near Sunway Carnival mall in Penang, as it eyes opportunities for expansion around the country.

Sunway Medical Centre, which received full accreditation from the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards (ACHS) last month, will streamline its operations and bring the enhanced working model to the new hospitals. Construction will begin at the end of the year.

The property conglomerate’s new hospitals in Cheras and Penang will have 150 and 180 beds, respectively.

Currently, a 10-storey oncology tower is being built over six acres of land adjacent to the Sunway Medical Centre in Bandar Sunway.

Sunway Group healthcare services managing director Lau Beng Long said the new block would add 200 beds to the existing medical facility, which has 368 beds with an occupancy rate of 70%, 170 medical specialists, and an average rate of 1,200 and 140 outpatients and admissions per day, respectively.

“There will be more specialty clinics in the new tower, where we will pool our current oncology facilities into a single hub. These new activities will increase our occupancy rate,” Lau said.

All three buildings are slated for completion by early 2017.

Sunway Medical Centre, the first hospital in South-East Asia to be accredited by the independent non-profit, is grouped together with the trading and manufacturing and quarry and building materials segment under the investment holdings subsidiary under the Sunway group.

For the financial year ended Dec 31, 2013, the group posted net profit of RM1.73bil, up 143% from the previous year’s RM724mil, on revenue of RM4.72bil.

Last year, its collective investment holdings contributed earnings of RM7.4mil on the back of RM309mil in revenue.

Lau said the Sunway Medical Centre’s profitability strengthened in the last two years after investing RM140mil to expand the hospital to include the Tower B, which has been operational for the past five years.

Sunway Medical Centre business development and corporate communications director Nadiah Wan said the healthcare services subsidiary was to further narrow its niche into sub-specialisation as a growth strategy, as well as better cater to the international market to tap into the growing medical tourism industry.

“Patients from Indonesia are our biggest international market, contributing 5% to our overall patient count, with Japanese expatriates coming in second.

“These numbers are not significant for now but we are looking at an increasingly growing market,” Nadiah said.

“Part of our aim in obtaining the ACHS accreditation is to reach an international standard of healthcare as we drive our expansion plans.”

Apart from the development of its oncology facility, Sunway’s fertility segment, similarly, has seen growth in its number of local and international patients, with foreigners contributing 15%-20% to the overall figure.

“We do about 50 fertility consultations a day and plan to expand this facility alongside other sub-specialties,” Lau said.

He added that Sunway was not looking to list its healthcare services anytime soon.

It would depend on the success of its forays into Cheras and Penang, which might then compel the group to expand into a chain of hospitals within Malaysia, he said, adding that the group was not looking to go overseas at the moment.

Sunway is also looking at having starting a new teaching hospital to support the Monash University Malaysia Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences. In the absence of a private teaching hospital in the country, Monash medical students conduct their clinical attachment at the multi-specialty government-funded Sultanah Aminah Hospital in Johor Baru.

“We will make our proposal to the ministry of higher education when we have ironed out the physical and funding model for it. We are working on this concurrently with our expansion plans, priority being the new hospitals,” Lau said.

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