Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Sitting at the foot of a tree in the National Institute of Mental Health, under the Hà Nội-based Bạch Mai Hospital, Lê Thị Thanh casts her eyes around to search for her son in the crowd queuing up to park their vehicles in the hospital’s parking lot.
The woman, from Lập Thạch District, the northern province of Vĩnh Phúc, waits for her son with an exhausted expression.
The Bạch Mai Hospital closed its biggest parking lot at the beginning of this month, in order to build a daytime centre for health examinations and treatment.
By the end of this month, the parking lot of the National Institute of Mental Health, where Hữu – Thanh’s son – parks his motorbike, will also be closed to upgrade the institute.
After 30 minutes of queuing up in the baking sun to get into the parking lot, and 10 more to find a space, Hữu is sweating profusely before even taking his mother into the hospital.
“I’m afraid of hospitals in Hà Nội. Leaving vehicles in the parking lot is more tiring than having a health examination,” said Hữu.
However, a 40-year-old motorbike taxi driver standing nearby said queuing for 20 minutes was still quick.
“The previous afternoon, too many vehicles flooded the parking lot so it took a long time to park the vehicles,” he said.
On Wednesday morning, the hospital’s security guards created a two-lane path to go in the parking lot, so residents can queue up along the path to go in and out.
But it still takes them at least 15 minutes, because the hospital is so crowded.
Since the Bạch Mai Hospital closed its biggest parking lot at the hospital’s gate, the parking lots of other surrounding hospitals such as the National Geriatrics Hospital, the National Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital and the National Dermatology and Venerology Hospital, are more crowded than usual, although their parking lots are less spacious.
At the National Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital, residents even have to put their vehicles in front of the health examination area and the drug stores, causing problems on the pavements.
The vehicles are arranged haphazardly and residents find it difficult to take their vehicles out.
Nguyễn Thị Huyền, from Hà Nội’s Thanh Trì District, takes her baby to the National Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital early so her motorbike is usually parked in a far corner. When she wants to leave, she’s faced with at least five other motorbikes that need to be moved to clear the way for hers.
Some residents are forced to leave their motorbikes at houses nearby, costing up to VNĐ10,000-20,000 (US$0.4-0.8) for one motorbike.
Nguyễn Văn Thế, a resident from Hà Nội’s Đống Đa District, said that he agreed with the plan of upgrading the hospital. But the hospital should arrange another suitable parking lot while the old one is being upgraded.
Finding a parking lot outside the hospital will be much more difficult for patients coming from other provinces and cities, he said.
Doctor Dương Đức Hùng, head of the Planning Division under the Bạch Mai Hospital, told the Hà Nội Mới (New Hà Nội) newspaper that the hospital’s leaders knew that residents would face difficulties in finding parking, but the hospital could not provide an alternative.
The hospital recommended that residents travel to the hospital using public transportation rather than personal vehicles.
The hospital asked the people’s committees of Đống Đa District, Phương Mai and Đồng Tâm wards for support to create good conditions for residents parking their vehicles.
Hoàng Bảo Phương, chairwoman of the Phương Mai Ward People’s Committee, said that the ward did not have any big spaces to accommodate such a large number of vehicles.
Every day, Bạch Mai Hospital receives about 6,000 people for health examinations, 4,000 inpatients and thousands of visitors, according to the hospital’s statistics. — VNS