Islanders get round-the-clock care

February 25, 2024

The Hospital Authority’s (HA) seven general out-patient clinics in Hong Kong’s Islands District provide primary medical services during regular consultation hours that are comparable to those in urban areas. In consideration of their remoteness from other health facilities, however, the HA has established 24-hour first aid posts at four of those clinics, giving patients access to medical assistance outside of regular hours.


Two of the posts, at Yung Shue Wan in North Lamma, and Peng Chau, have registered nurses available to assist local residents in case of emergencies, while the ones at Mui Wo and Tai O have both doctors and nurses on duty.  


Preventing delays

According to HA Mui Wo General Out-patient Clinic Doctor-in-charge Dr Shek Hon-wing, the first aid posts have two purposes.


“One is to handle some of the cases which can be handled by the clinic doctors at that time and settled,” he explained. “And the second purpose is to treat those patients which are relatively severe cases, to let them become relatively stable first before they go to the emergency department in an ambulance.”


Mr Yeung, who is 64 and has lived in Mui Wo for almost 20 years, noticed an abnormal increase in his heart rate last month. Despite it being outside of the clinic’s out-patient consultation hours, he was still able to receive medical attention there.


“I experienced a significant rise in my heart rate, going from over 80 beats per minute to over 130 beats per minute,” he recalled. “As my condition worsened, I promptly sought assistance at the Mui Wo First Aid Post. The medical staff quickly conducted an electrocardiogram and administered injections.


“When my condition stabilised slightly, they promptly arranged for an ambulance to transport me to the hospital. After a two-day observation, I was discharged. Without the availability of first aid post services, I would have had to wait for an ambulance to arrive in Mui Wo and then be transported to the hospital, resulting in a significant delay.”


Expecting the unexpected

Located in the Mui Wo Government Offices, the HA Mui Wo General Out-patient Clinic spans two floors. The first floor houses an outpatient registration counter, consultation rooms, and a dispensary, while the first aid post is situated on the ground floor. The post serves as a miniature emergency department, providing treatment for a range of injuries and serious conditions such as heart attacks and strokes.


Dr Shek said local residents seek medical treatment every day for conditions ranging from minor injuries such as bee stings, and grazes from falls while cycling, to more severe ailments such as cardiovascular disease.


With nearly 25 years of clinical experience, including 18 years working in outlying islands, he knows that life can be unpredictable, and recounted an incident where a 90-year-old woman suddenly collapsed upon leaving the clinic after a consultation. He and the duty nurse swiftly shifted their focus from out-patient work to providing immediate first aid assistance.


“We detected she had suffered from ventricular fibrillation, so we needed to deliver shock treatment for her and also give her some medical treatment. Afterwards she got back her pulse. And then we called the helicopter and sent her to the hospital for further treatment.”


Dr Shek emphasised the need for doctors to prioritise emergency cases, as similar situations can arise unexpectedly.

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