SEREMBAN: The Health Ministry decided to seal the premises that houses both the Mawar Medical Centre (MMC) and the Mawar Haemodialysis Centre (MHC) on Thursday (Feb 14) only because the management had informed its dialysis patients that the facility would be closed from that date.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said the chairman of both centres Datin Chua Lay Ping had, in a letter dated Feb 11, also informed him that the management had to cease operations as it did not have the funds to pay its staff this month.
"Many allegations have been made that the ministry refused to look into the well-being of the patients and staff when it decided to shut down the premises.
"We decided to move in only after we got the letter from the management in which the chairman had, among others, sought our assistance to transfer all dialysis patients to other facilities immediately," he said in a Facebook post Sunday (Feb 17).
Dr Dzulkefly said the management had even put up a notice at its premises stating that the dialysis treatment would only be provided till Feb 14 and that patients should make their own arrangements for further treatment.
"Health is not something which we should treat lightly.
"The ministry cannot allow a situation where a patient comes for treatment only to find that the facility is no longer open," he said, adding that the ministry only made a move as the contents of the letter and the notice were clear.
A ministry team from Putrajaya arrived at the premises around 3.15pm Thursday (feb 14) and asked all its employees to vacate the building.
When met outside the building, Chua had said the management was surprised by the ministry's action.
She claimed that the ministry team told her employees that they did not need to come to work the next day.
In November, 2018, the ministry had ordered the MMC to cease operations after all but one of its specialists resigned.
Although it was given two months to sort out its licensing issues, the management failed to comply and its license was revoked.
The Federal Land Commissioner, which owns the 0.6ha plot on which both centres sit on, then wrote to the management stating that it had apparently breached certain conditions of the 30-year lease.
The management was given a month to explain but had apparently failed to do so.
It is learnt that the commissioner has also asked the management to vacate the premises by next month for breaching lease conditions.
Dr Dzulkefly said the centre’s licence was revoked after all but one of its specialists resigned within 24 hours.
"We had to act promptly to close the centres to ensure the patients were taken care of.
"It is wrong to say that we acted in haste and without any consideration for the patients and staff," he said.
He also denied claims that the ministry officials had refused to allow the staff to take their personal items when the premises was sealed or asked them not to turn up for work on Friday (Feb 15).
Dr Dzulkefly also thanked all parties that have come forward to assist the patients.
"Many non-governmental organisations and private centres have come forward offering their support to ensure the patients continue to receive treatment.
"My gratitude also goes out to all ministry employees who have been recalled to work overtime to ensure the patients were cared for," he said.
State health, environment, cooperatives and consumerism committee chairman S. Veerapan said Hospital Tuanku Ja'afar (HTJ) had contacted all the 274 individuals undergoing treatment at the dialysis centre here after it was shut down.
He said the state health department was also looking into the logistics to allow patients to get dialysis treatment at centres closer to their homes.
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