24 June 2019 | Details are emerging about a highly controversial incident in which an Adventist hospital in Hong Kong was accused of refusing to treat a patient who had taken part in a political protest.
According to the South China Morning Post, the patient presented to Hong Kong Adventist Hospital in Tsuen Wan at 10.30 pm on June 12. The hospital said that the patient had a “suspicious wound.”
On that day, thousands had protested a controversial bill that, if successful, would allow people in Hong Kong to be extradited to China.
The Post reported on June 25 that the hospital claims medical care was given to the patient in the form of wound cleaning and monitoring of vital signs. The hospital says that it encouraged the patient to seek treatment at a nearby public hospital after his situation stabilized and that he left on his own accord.
Workers at the Adventist facility reported the injured protestor to police, and he was later arrested at the other hospital. This appears to have been a staff response to a police request made earlier that day at the hospital to report suspicious injuries related to the protests.
Alex Lan, the hospital president, said that there were notices in the hospital lobby stating that the hospital might have to report information to relevant authorities depending on the circumstances. The notices asked patients to consider whether they wanted to seek treatment at the hospital.
The Adventist facility has been called “unethical” by protestors, and a patients’ rights group that said patient privacy rights were violated in the handling of the patient.
According to the Post, bosses of private hospitals in the territory have spoken up in the wake of the controversial incident, saying that although they will treat urgent medical needs, patients deemed to have situations with legal implications would be referred to state hospitals as they fell under the latter’s “remit.”
Hong Kong’s health minister, Sophia Chan Siu-chee, said the Department of Health had asked the Adventist facility about what took place.
“Hong Kong is organized by the rule of law,” Chan said. “But in hospitals, anyone who seeks medical care should be given appropriate medical services immediately.”
She added, “There must be a balance between the rule of law and patients’ privacy.”
According to the denomination’s Office of Archives and Statistics, there were 19 churches and an Adventist membership of 4,613 in the Hong Kong-Macau Conference as of June 30, 2018.