Panel to probe defects at Sultan Ismail Hospital


IPOH: The Health and Works ministries have set up a joint committee to trace the problems that led to the irregularities in the construction of the Sultan Ismail Hospital in Johor Baru, which recently closed due to fungus infection. 

This followed a decision by the Cabinet, which viewed the construction defects as a serious issue. 

In separate statements yesterday Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek and Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said they would visit the hospital on Monday for a first-hand look at the conditions there. 

The secretary-general of their respective ministries would head the joint committee. 

Dr Chua said the construction defects at the RM500mil hospital, formerly known as the Pandan Specialist Hospital, should serve as a lesson to contractors involved in building hospitals. 

“We hope contractors awarded projects to build hospitals will do it properly as their lackadaisical attitude will cause people to suffer,” he told reporters after opening the Fifth Perak Mental Health Convention here yesterday. 

He added that applications for any hospital project should be carefully vetted to ensure that only reliable contractors are chosen. 

On Thursday, the Health Ministry ordered the hospital to temporarily close after fungus, scientifically known as penicillium and aspergillus, were detected on its walls and in some of the clinical equipment. 

The fungus was caused by the high humidity in the building due to a faulty air-conditioning system. 

The Anti-Corruption Agency has since moved in to probe on suspected irregularities in the construction.  

The Star had reported problems of air-conditioning at the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital in Klang and the Kuala Lumpur Hospital. 

Samy Vellu, citing a 30-month field study in the United States on micro-biohazard exposure in hospitals, said fungus infection was not an uncommon thing. 

“Fungus infection has happened in many countries and not just here. It’s not the first time that it has happened but we’ll take all the necessary actions to curb it,” he told reporters after chairing an MIC central working committee meeting in Kuala Lumpur. 

He said there was a problem between the contractor and the Health Ministry regarding the medical equipment that had been agreed upon at the start of the contract. 

“The hospital wanted the latest equipment but the contractors said it would be difficult to provide it as they had already made the orders. 

“We don’t want to blame anyone but we want the problem to be solved,” he said, adding that the contractor that was involved would not be blacklisted. 

Out of 1,674 medical equipment ordered by the hospital, as at Sept 27, some 1,433 have been delivered.  

Related Stories:Contractor to foot repair bill as fungus-hit hospital under warranty ACA begins probe on hospital