Miscommunication behind dress code dispute at Penang hospital, says state health exco chief


GEORGE TOWN: A recent dispute between a senior citizen and security personnel over a hospital dress code violation at the Seberang Jaya Hospital was due to miscommunication, says Penang health committee chairman Daniel Gooi Zi Sen.

Expressing his regret over the matter, Gooi said further action would be taken to prevent such incidents from recurring to improve the hospital’s services.

"I regret that this incident took place at Hospital Seberang Jaya.

"Hospital Seberang Jaya has undergone an investigation and found out that it was due to miscommunication between the security personnel and the complainant.

“Further action will be taken to prevent this incident from recurring and do not let this isolated incident tarnish the reputation of our healthcare system, as all our medical personnels are working very hard to ensure Penangites receive quality treatment," Gooi said on Thursday (Dec 14).

On Monday, a 72-year-old man was turned away by security at Seberang Jaya Hospital after he was deemed to be dressed inappropriately.

Retired engineer Lim Thean Heng in a photo shared that he was clad in a t-shirt, shorts that fell above his knees, and sports shoes.

It was reported that Lim who was visiting his brother-in-law, was then referred to an infographic on the hospital’s visitor dress code, which barred shorts, singlets, short skirts and sleeveless tops.

"I was flabbergasted. I asked the security guard what the problem was with wearing shorts.

"I was given no explanation and barred from entering," he said.

Lim claimed that he then brought up the matter to the hospital’s complaints counter, with an officer telling him that he would use his discretion and allow him to enter "just this once".

When he met an officer in charge of security at the hospital, he asked the basis for the dress code and according to Lim, the officer replied "This dress code is according to the Rukun Negara.”

Lim further claimed that he was later refused entry by the same security guard who had stopped him, despite being allowed to enter "just this once" by the officer at the complaints counter earlier, adding that she gave way only after a supervisor was summoned.

In a statement sighted, Seberang Jaya Hospital director Dr Saiful Azlan Sharif said that the dress code at government departments has long been practiced and the hospital is not exempted.

"The dressing etiquette is determined to ensure harmony and well-being together in line with the fifth Rukun Negara principle which is courtesy and morality,” he said.

On the issue, Dr Saiful clarified that it was due to a misunderstanding and miscommunication between the security personnel and the complainant.

In May last year, the Public Service Department (PSD) said it would be enhancing training programmes for counter staff to ensure they are familiar with public dress codes accepted in government buildings.

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