Penang General Hospital, October 2010
The sprawling complex of Penang General Hospital was the venue for the PHT site visit on Sunday afternoon, 3rd October.
Some 31 PHT members and friends assembled at the hospital’s main entrance in Block B. Now known as Hospital Pulau Pinang and previously as Hospital Besar Pulau Pinang, this is the biggest public hospital in Penang and second largest in the country. Lcated along Jalan Residensi, with various departments on the opposite side of the road as well as along Jalan Sepoy Lines, as a public hospital it provides health care and emergency treatment for all illnesses and accidents.
The Penang General Hospital traces its history to the Pauper’s Hospital started by Mun Ah Foo, a leader of the Ghee Hin Society. The aim of the hospital was to provide healthcare to the poor and needy as well as rehabilitation for opium smokers. After Mun Ah Foo passed on, the Pauper’s Hospital continued to be managed by a committee headed by Governor Archibald Anson, with representations from the Chinese clan associations, guilds and other pillars of 19th century society. During this period, the Leper Hospital was relocated to Pulau Jerejak, off the southeast coast of Penang, where it remained until the mid-20th century.
In the hospital grounds we viewed the monument to those who had made significant donations to the hospital in the early years, including the King of Siam. Unfortunately, enquiries as to the location of the memorial to Health & Medical Services staff killed in the Second World War drew a blank from the hospital officials acting as our guides. The unveiling of a commemorative plaque had been reported in The Straits Times on 2nd October, 1948.
Other sites of interest which we were shown were the Nurses’ Mess built in the early 1930s and the nearby Matrons’ Residence, a beautiful and distinctive structure of older vintage in excellent condition. The latter deserves to be conserved although both are reportedly destined for replacement.