BEIRUT: The government-run Rafik Hariri Hospital is currently operating below capacity due to chronic money problems that have caused many qualified personnel to leave, a Beirut lawmaker told The Daily Star Thursday. MP Imad Hout, who is also a medical doctor, was one of several parliamentarians who attended a meeting with hospital staff Thursday that resulted in the creation of a special committee to address the pressing needs of the Rafik Hariri University Hospital, where employees have gone on strike several times over the past few months in protest of unpaid wages.
“The hospital is experiencing severe cash flow problems and we will work on two types of measures,” Hout said. “First, we will work on swift measures to salvage the situation in coordination with the Health Ministry through securing cash so that the hospital can address its pressing needs.
“Second, we will cooperate with the hospital’s administration in order to lay down a plan to be presented to the new government to come up with a permanent solution for this problem.”
Hout confirmed that employees in the hospital were not receiving their salaries on time. He also revealed that the hospital was currently operating with just 270 beds, although it can accommodate 400 to 450 beds.
“We listened to a detailed report on the situation of the hospital during the meeting, and we discovered that the number of beds in the hospital has declined due to the cash flow problems,” Hout said. “A number of nurses have left the hospital, causing this decline in the number of beds.”
“This is reflecting negatively on the services provided by the hospital,” he added. He emphasized, however, that while capacity decreased, the quality of the medical services have not.
Media reports have emerged recently over corruption in the hospital, which was inaugurated in 2004. The reports also cited the hospital’s inability to provide medications to patients suffering from chronic diseases.
Hout promised that the committee – which includes Dr. Atef Majdalani, who heads Parliament’s Public Health, Labor and Social Affairs committee; Dr. Bassem Shab; and Hout – would start working within few days. He said it was a pressing matter of public concern as it was a state hospital, and “due to the deteriorating economic situation, many people have no option other than coming [here].”
Beirut MP Mohammad Qabbani, who also attended the meeting, said more discussion was needed to solve the hospital’s crisis.
“I repeat that we support with all our capacity this big and important hospital and we will make utmost moral and political effort to improve its major contribution to health care in Lebanon,” Qabbani was quoted saying by the National News Agency.