PJ’s University Hospital – A Traffic Disaster

by ROAD 10

Have you been to the University Hospital recently? If you haven’t, try it and join the jam and queue which stretches out to its traffic-light junction entrance at Jalan University. And God help you if you have a loved one or friend with a smashed leg or heart attack. If you are indeed at that junction and stuck in the jam, you might just as well read out the last rites as there is a large likelihood of the patient going up to meeting God directly from that traffic junction itself. No way will you be able to approach its oddly built and placed Accidents and Emergency Unit (the signboard mysteriously mentions Trauma but the building itself looks like a giant car park).

The University Hospital or now glamorously termed University Malaya Medical Center has an infrastructure and layout that is well…for a lack of a better term…truly cocked up. For those who are old enough to remember the early years of this Hospital when even the Jalan Gasing/ Federal Highway intersection at EPF was nothing more then a traffic light junction instead of an interchange, this hospital used to be numero uno in its almost ergonomic layout for especially the general public and patients. Whoever the original founders and designers were, they had paid great attention to detail and many a time all that we PJ residents had to do when there was an emergency was just drive up directly to its A&E Department located just after the traffic lights.

Wikipedia states that the Hospital was founded by a Dr. Danaraj during the period when Tunku was the Prime Minister and the foundation stone was actually laid by Jibby’s dad, Razak in 1965. It opened officially in 1968. I remember it was so well designed that anyone running up to its A&E got everything done almost immediately including emergency surgery rather fast. The University Hospital used to have large, rather therapeutic, meticulously maintained lawns that covered much of its open space. I remember still its large open car park off Jalan University. There used to be a mamak shop on the ground floor that sold for 10 cents these large curry puffs. Today you have to fork out RM6 for a piece of cake at its Secret Recipe outlet at its lobby. A chat with the sundry outlets there complain of outrageous rentals.

But like many things in Malaysia, with the passing of its old guard, the University Hospital like almost every other institution in this country appears to be undergoing rather rapid or is it “rabid” development? The chaos is truly astonishing! One has to be actually there to experience the utter traffic nightmare and mayhem as a result of what looks like very haphazard development taking place at the hospital grounds. Looks like Malaysia’s lethal corrupt piratisation program and Ketuanan culture has not spared even this Hospital. A massive so called Primary Care building or RUKA has emerged out of no where blocking its initial main entrance and its original A&E.

To compound matters, its A&E has moved to the main carpark which is quite a distance from its main tower building. As an engineer, I cannot for the life of me, understand how the new A&E was allowed to be built on its open car park space located hardly a few meters from the edge of Jalan University. Patients have to fight their way through traffic to reach its emergency unit. And after having done that, relatives will have to run around in circles looking for a parking space. If you are lost they will eventually direct you to this giant, dimly lit car park right above the A&E building which will truly test your driving skills as you try to negotiate its narrow lanes and super low ceilings.

And if you happen to get a parking space on the 5th floor or something, you will need to grope around to find out where the lifts are. And if you indeed find the lifts (most of the patients were taking the staircases including the mak ciks who could hardly walk), they don’t tell you where you need to get off to get to the tower building. Not only is the ergonomic design gone, the run around can give any patient a coronary. That such a well organized hospital could have been transformed to such pandemonium and haphazardness could only have happened in Bolehland.

But apparently there is worse to come. According to the security guards there, more towers or “menaras” are coming up with no one having any idea where the staff to manage them are going to come from or where the public car parks are going to be. Looking at the signboards and his story, it sounded like another scam “submarine cannot dive “or “jets without engine” story. But to be fair, the nursing standards at this hospital are still much better then one gets in a general hospital I suppose.

However, patients trying to get to this hospital get a very raw deal indeed. Its entrance is literally unapproachable. All the hospital’s open spaces seem to have been replaced with concrete multistoreyed car parks with even more towers being built without any solutions to its current unending traffic and parking problems. Its roads have become extremely narrow from the very outset at the University Road Junction causing traffic to backup to the highly congested Jalan University. Its emergency department is literally sitting on Jalan University. It will be a real miracle if a patient can actually get there except if you are in an ambulance. Its new specialist, pediatric and maternity towers promise to only add to its traffic nightmare.

The Vice Chancellor, who reportedly is a qualified engineer should “turun padang” to see the havoc himself and see how patients, especially the elderly struggle daily because of the poor planning. He should first try making the turn into the badly architectured multistorey car park complex. If he is bringing his grandmother in his MPV, he should get prepared to get a few scratches on the MPV when he tries to maneuver into the entrance of the carpark. He then should try to get to the main tower from the car park complex. And if he is lost at the lifts or find them too slow, he should then take the steps without tripping on the many potholes on its floor. If he misses taking the link bridge because of poor signages, then I would recommend that he takes the steps all the way down and cross the road at the zebra crossing without getting knocked over by the heavy traffic there. For patients, caught in this chaotic environment, it is truly intimidating.

The VC must identify who is responsible for this haphazard development of Malaysia’s best known hospital. For residents in PJ, this is the only General Hospital they know and even if they have to pay a small amount for treatment but it doesn’t matter because it used to be known for its quality care. But now with all its roads choked and car parks literally unapproachable, patients literally risk dying getting to the hospital’s door. A neighbor of mine was referred to the UH for a hormonal problem but after being unable to find a parking space for one hour, she skipped the hospital and kept driving all the way to Putrajaya where she was treated quite promptly.

If the VC or whoever is in charge of this hospital is not going to find a remedy for its traffic nightmare, the UMMC is going to end up a ghost hospital as patients will not be able to get there. In fact, this may already be happening as the A&E Department looks rather deserted for a hospital this size. If the University Hospital doesn’t solve its traffic and parking woes soon, all that building that is being carried out there using tax payer’s money is going to go to waste. The simultaneous rapid building rampage on almost every open space this hospital used to have is highly suspicious, especially if the no staff story is true. I do hope someone is not making money from needless projects

  1. #1 by drngsc on Sunday, 20 June 2010 - 6:06 pm

    Ya lah. I am the 6th batch. The UH is totally different now. No character, no spirit and no soul. We the early batches are all so disappointed and ashame. The rabid, pirates have been here. I understand that more ” renovations” and ” upgrading ” are coming.

  2. #2 by Winston on Sunday, 20 June 2010 - 6:13 pm

    Yeah, it’s everything the author said that it is!
    The whole place is like a labyrinth with very little signboards and one can easily get completely lost in the vast building!
    Even the lifts are far too small for any purpose!
    It is supposedly a leading semi-government hospital in the country.
    Whoever turned it into what it is today must be sacked and have their pension, EPF or whatsoever confiscated!
    In addition to being subject to a very thorough investigation into what they did to bring about this very bad state of affairs!
    They must be held completely accountable!

  3. #3 by boh-liao on Sunday, 20 June 2010 - 6:34 pm

    As usual, planning ada, implementation tak ada
    The new wing – fr d time of construction 2 completion, tak jadi lah, poorly constructed, all bcos of corruption (main con, sub-con, sub-sub-con, etc, got d picture)

    Now Jalan Universiti in front of UH is like a huge car park, rather than a main road
    Wait 4 huge sinkholes 2 appear in front of it

    In contrast, NUH, Singapore, turns 25 this year n is growing fr strength 2 strength

  4. #4 by ringthetill on Sunday, 20 June 2010 - 6:39 pm

    And all that is progress and development for you. It’s all a big con game by the politicians and so-called people in authorithy. I say we need to do some serious thinking for change.

  5. #5 by Fatty Doc on Sunday, 20 June 2010 - 6:45 pm

    And could UM fellas please have the mercy to provide more car parks to all the undergrad students, master students and its junior staff?! It’s totally ridiculous to spend precious time everyday to find ourselves trying to squeeze and park by the yellow line; and later to find that our cars are being chained up for illegal parking!! And in order to pay the fine of RM50, we have to beg our frens to ferry us few kilometres away to the security office!! What frakking non-sense!

    And on top of all this, the public expect the doctors to give them a smile?!

  6. #6 by sheriff singh on Sunday, 20 June 2010 - 6:52 pm

    Ask Jib to take his ‘walk’ there.

    It is what you might call in IT lingo a ‘cut and paste’ job.

    The planners and designers must have had a lot of experience in City Hall.

    But the VIPs never go to the UMMC anyway so they won’t know what the general public experiences. So do they care?

  7. #7 by Jeffrey on Sunday, 20 June 2010 - 6:54 pm

    The Hospital is under pressure from demand of its facilities. Rich people can afford Private Hospitals like Pantai that charge even toilet paper but if one looks for basic accurate diagnosis the University Hospital has the facilities and equipment (After all it has to mprovide teaching facilities to UM’s medical students). Of course the “meticulously maintained lawns” have to give way to more buildings including the Primary Care building or RUKA – all within a confined area.

    What’s the complaint if its “emergency department is literally sitting on Jalan University”?

    In emergency cases the moment you turn in, you turn right and you’re at front door of the A&E, where hospital orderlies will bring wheel chair and stretcher to bring the patient in. Of courser thereafter relatives have to work the way through labyrinth of multistory car parks and buildings and find their way back to A&E.

    The main complaint about University Hospital is the paperwork and bureaucratic delays of registering the patient – and also availability of senior medical staff to immediately examine emergency cases.

    To complain about difficulty of getting into the hospital in the first place and to blame the Vice Chancellor, who reportedly is a qualified engineer, about the traffic havoc and difficulty of patients, especially the elderly, in struggling daily into the hospital assumes first and foremost that the traffic difficulties of getting into the hospital is primarily due to haphazard development of buildings and inadequate width of roads within the hospital compound easily blamed on “Malaysia’s lethal corrupt piratisation program and Ketuanan culture”.

    Though a convenient blame it forgets that the difficulty of turning into the Hospital is primary due to havoc traffic conditions along Jalan Universiti especially at the traffic junction to the Hospital just outside that has nothing to do with the Hospital or the Vice Chancellor.

    Don’t compare Universiti Hospital in 1968 to that now – as one cannot compare Petaling Jaya then and now, awarded city status 2006 with more than 1.3 million in Subang Jaya and over 700,000 in rest of PJ as of 2009.

    During peak hours – going to and after work- the Federal Highway is crawling bumber to bumber and so are other arterial roads like Jalan Universiti! The whole NEW generation of office buildings have mushroomed in several parts of Petaling Jaya – Jaya 1, 33 etc – what about condominiums – Universiti Tower just opposite the Hospital, and down the road a bit the school SK Taman Sea and opposite the school the presently constructed Ameera Residences? Before then one didn’t have – but now we have – a sprawling KFC 24 hour outlet just before enttrace to the University Malaya. To compound problem the lights in front of UM has a smart system with a camera that can change its timing based on the road capacity while those in front of the hospital facing Jalan 11/2 are standard traffic lights. Then the traffic lights within Jalan Universiti itself are not synchronised. Yes cars parked along the road in front of Universiti Hospital add to the congestion but that’s because visitors attitude are such they prefer to risk of getting traffic summons then to go round and round the multi-storey building looking for vacant parking lots in a hospital where demand exceeds supply.

  8. #8 by monsterball on Sunday, 20 June 2010 - 7:14 pm

    Just vote UMNO B out completely and see what happen.
    MB Khalid can do nothing…governing Selangor…as overall say..such as this are under Federal Govt authority….and you can bet….Najib will ignore..using tat as lousy PR management….hoping Malaysians will get fed up with PR.
    UMNO B is a sick and corrupted party…with no real love for Malaysians.

  9. #9 by sheriff singh on Sunday, 20 June 2010 - 7:25 pm

    There is just no more land available. Maybe they could reclaim the UM lake?

    Or how about reclaiming the PJ lake nearby?

    Everyone is short of land and space.

  10. #10 by monsterball on Sunday, 20 June 2010 - 7:45 pm

    No need to alter the beauty on PJ landscape.
    UMNO B knows how to sell more cars..like Protons…and have no traffic management plans.
    Had they have that…fly overs may have reduced all traffic jams drastically.
    Yes building new Palace and upgrading National mosque by the billions more important than serving public sincerely…as those projects…no tender needed…just charge as much as they like.
    They are serving the King and Religion….no questions asked.
    On something like the University Hospital….years and years dragged on…as open tender will expose..so very difficult to mark up…for huge corruptions and Selangor voters are not so easily be fooled nowadays.
    UMNO B have tasted voters with the 12th GE result in Selangor and Willayah.
    Najib wanted to move University Hospital to another location…receiving tons of rejections.
    God help those sick that need immediate attention….and die on the way to the hospital…due to traffic jam.

  11. #11 by yhsiew on Sunday, 20 June 2010 - 7:58 pm

    Perhaps we need to change the KPI minister!

  12. #12 by boh-liao on Sunday, 20 June 2010 - 9:22 pm

    At 1time, UmnoB n cronies wanted 2 move UM or Pantai High Skool out of Pantai Valley so dat they could sell d prime land 4 a huge profit

  13. #13 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Sunday, 20 June 2010 - 11:17 pm

    Well, it’s time for Jib’s walkabout, and then propose a new RM800 million hospital just for A & E. That would cause Malaysian taxpayers a real trauma, a CAD (coronary arterial disease) and CVA (cardiac vascular accident) all rolled in one.

  14. #14 by Winston on Sunday, 20 June 2010 - 11:28 pm

    I think that if the electorate changed the Federal government in the next GE, we would not be spending so much time visiting or writing such posts.
    Because, with a good government, there’s no necessity to do so!
    We would then be enjoying life instead of being fearful for everything!

  15. #15 by Bigjoe on Monday, 21 June 2010 - 8:31 am

    At the crux of the matter is basically how medicine have changed. I was admitted to UH back in the 1970s on an emergency. The author is inaccurate that there was a traffic light. Originally there was NOT even a traffic light as the entire Jalan Universiti consist of bungalows houses and hence traffic was very light

    Anyway, back then medicine was not as highly specialised and you got treated at emergency room and when admitted, you got treated by one doctor. Today medicine is highly specialised and yet complicated with lots of inter-dependency. The design of the original hospital did not envision so many specialities and interdependency.

    Unfortunately, the administration of the hospital did not have the foresight to see the chances and today still playing a catch up game to the latest in medicine. Its one of those example how when meritocracy get thrown out the door, things fall behind.

  16. #16 by dagen on Monday, 21 June 2010 - 12:57 pm

    And you say that is bad experience. My was certainly worse than that. No words could describe it. The whole place is a big big mess. Big mess, man.

  17. #17 by waterfrontcoolie on Monday, 21 June 2010 - 2:41 pm

    As years go by, there is only ONE CERTAINTY in this beautiful country, we are gathering speed as we grind towards our partner in arm: ZIMBABWE. We seem to be to be goingthe way of Philipines and Myanmar, both being better off than most Asian Countries after the 2nd WW; and steadily move towards irelevant status; likewise we have read of our standing in the 70s and those below us: Singapore, Taiwan, S.Korea, and Hong Kong: they have all passed us by more than 2 folds. Then we have Thailand and then Vietnam both are about to move pass us. What next? To compete with Myanmar, Cambodia or even Laos, Nepal??
    It is sad to note that our MPs, especially those in the Gomen are still turning a blind eye to the situation and spend their time harping on irrelevant issues which are aimed at irritating Malaysians with all thier STUPID rhetorics in the Parliamaent. My only hope to all Malaysians is to vote ONLY THINKING MPs for the next Session, we don’t need Shysters and jokers who badly reflect the quality of this nation to the rest of the world. I don’t even care which party they come from!!

  18. #18 by son of perpaduan on Tuesday, 22 June 2010 - 9:12 pm

    BTW, anyone please tell me who is the VC of this hospital?

  19. #19 by palmdoc on Wednesday, 23 June 2010 - 4:46 pm

    Get your facts right. UH is not in PJ, technically it is in KL.

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