GEORGE TOWN - Penang Hospital is facing a curious but serious problem - overstaying.
According to Penang Hospital Visitors' Board chairman Lim Thoon Deong, there was a "large number" of patients - already treated and cured - whose family members or guardians did not want to take home.
"They treat the hospital like a nursing home. Even though this is a big hospital, there are not enough beds," he said after a Hari Raya Aidilfitri do at the hospital.
Last month alone, there were 60 patients who overstayed in various wards, most of them elderly.
Lim said the hospital's heads of department had sought his help to solve the matter.
"When hospital director (Dr Yasmin Sulaiman) told me the figure, I was shocked."
He said the hospital had tried to contact the family members and guardians, even advertising in the newspapers, but the efforts had been futile.
Lim said the Welfare Department also faced constraints in housing the patients, as there were numerous procedures to follow.
He said the board had helped send some of the patients to nursing homes in the state.
"I appeal to the people to take their family members home. The hospital is a place to receive treatment. It is not a nursing home. What they're doing deprives patients of treatment."
Lim also urged the state government to help solve the matter.
A senior citizen, who did not want to be named, said he had been there for three weeks.
The 76-year-old at the dengue ward said he had a brother and a sister but the latter could not take him home as she was renting a place. He was told that arrangements were being made to send him to a nursing home.