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Vachira Phuket's Dr Jessada, hoping to keep people out of hospital

Vachira Phuket, Heart of a Holiday Island

Sunday, July 28, 2013
PHUKET: We have seen tourists, murdered with a knife or mangled in freak holiday crashes, being coffin-packed for home in the outdoor morgue. We have stepped around Burmese newborns on mattresses in corridors.

We have seen a Russian man, struck by a speedboat propellor, struggling to be understood in a crowded ward. We have seen motorcycle victims galore and a lonely Rohingya woman, anxious before childbirth and delighted later, cradling her baby.

We have seen drowned children. We have helped to lift a barely conscious Aussie who fell 18 floors and survived, being prepared for a life-saving operation. The nurses needed help.

Today and every day, the nurses and the doctors need every bit of help they can get.

If there's a place that truly represents the soul and heart of Phuket, it is Vachira Phuket Hospital, the island's largest and busiest public hospital. No other place comes close.

I first went to Vachira Phuket on the day in 2004 that the tsunami struck Phuket. A Canadian tourist sitting outside Emergency escaped with cuts when the wave picked him up as he was scuba diving off Kata beach.

That night, an Australian told how, on the first day of a holiday, he and his wife had been swept off their feet by a wall of water in Patong. He escaped uninjured but his wife was seriously hurt and inside the hospital, being treated.

SOME VISITORS are shocked by the Phuket hospital's outdoor morgue or the overcrowded wards, by the queues and the constant hubub.

A Phuket Prison inmate shuffles past, his ankles in shackles and his arms holding up a heavy chain, a warder behind him. Vachira Phuket is full of surprises.

This week there was a rare pleasant surprise: a cheque for 100,000 baht from the German Help Organisation in Thailand, handed over by Germany's Honorary Consul in Chiang Mai, Hagen Dirksen.

As Mr Dirksen made clear in his brief speech, it was just a small token in recognition of the hospital's generosity in treating all expats, including Germans, whether or not they have the capacity to pay.

With Mr Dirksen was Phuket's own German honorary consul, Dirk Naumann.

Both honorary consuls would like to see all expats better insured, whether visiting Phuket and Thailand as tourists or coming to live.

The hospital's director, Dr Jessada Jongpaiboonwattana, made the point that of the 30 million baht spent caring for expats at Vachira Phuket last year, three million baht was unpaid.

He said this was ''no big deal.'' The hospital will always treat those who need care, regardless.

But a stroll around the hospital makes it plain that every baht counts and that every baht is put to good use.

Expats who come to live on Phuket should bear in mind that they will age and at some point they will need health insurance, the doctor said.

As for tourists, he said: ''Insurance is not expensive but it can cause hardship for some if they have an accident without it.''

Road crashes, drownings and somewhat surprisingly, giving up alcohol are the three main causes that put expats into Vachira Phuket.

As the hospital that treats more motorcycle-related injuries than any other on Phuket, Dr Jessada's views on riding without a helmet or without knowing how to ride a bike properly are predictable.

Often caught up in the mayhem of holiday disasters is the hospital's international matron, Methavee Maneesri, who does her best to make sure expats get the treatment they need and go home safely.

Les Boardman, the Australian whose wife Dianne was treated at Vachira Phuket during the tsunami, came back a few months later to donate $89,000 that he had raised.

If only there were more grateful visitors and residents who anticipated a time when they might need a hospital on Phuket and took out insurance as a precaution.

Meanwhile, Vachira Phuket will continue to do its absolute best, regardless.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


A very important story. Vachira seems always on the point of busting, but always is there intact. I know several Thais taken there all busted up, cared for by the good people there and the friends who lived-in with them, now not at all busted up. We should hope that the authorities are making the hospitals in Patong and Thalang and the new public one nearly as good!

Posted by ssresident on July 28, 2013 17:47


A wonderful hospital that works tirelessly to help heal the sick and the poor.

Posted by Greg on July 28, 2013 17:47


Thanks Phuketwan. This is the fact that I have been thinking about for a long time.. Vachira do a fantastic job.. Thanks go out to the hospital and all who works there!

Posted by Chris on July 28, 2013 22:51


My wife and I have always given to patong hospital long before it became the large institution it is today.The nurses,doctor and staff do a fantastic job like all the government hospitals on the island these people are true Thai heroes who care for the people not what they can scam out of them.
Make a donation today to these hospitals around the island most have a collection point in the entrance hall drop in and thank them tell them how much they are appreciated in the community it's a little thing but it goes a long way a simple thank you

Posted by scunner on July 29, 2013 04:57


Western European tourists with travel insurance flock to Bangkok and International. Only the ones with cheap Thai insurance (the ones with Baht 50K cap for eg) or non at all go to Vachira.

For that they provide an excellent service of middle class health care at Vachira for emergency treatment. But facilities are poor, no CRT, MRT or other state of the art inner tissue picture taking of accident victims. A lot of the time they concentrate on keeping the vital functions stable while giving the body more time to heal on itself, compared to emergency operation to stop the big and little leakers inside. Survival rates are in check with the price rates.

And keep in mind a lot of non residents specialist doctors coming in one time a day or week to check on their patients in the "cheap" hospital. Not my preferred way to be treated with longterm illness.

Don't get me wrong, they do a great job with their budget restrictions on salaries and equipment. Only want to ask anyone with a brain to get proper health insurance before coming to Thailand.

Posted by Lena on July 29, 2013 16:44


If the Thai government set up a compulsory basic medical cover for retirees as part of their yearly visa application.Around 10.000 baht per year, then surely this would go some way to cover the run of the mill cases of visiting the hospital.

Posted by Robert Webster on August 19, 2013 15:39

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