Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo has been urged to take action against the management of Koja General Hospital in North Jakarta due to excessive waiting times and other irregularities that threaten the city’s low-cost health care scheme.
In a recent impromptu inspection, the Jakarta Health Office found the facility was so oversubscribed that touts were selling tickets to patients that enable them to cut hospital queues.
Poempida Hidayatullah, a member of the House of Representatives’ Commission XI, which overseas health and welfare issues, called on Joko to seek an immediate explanation from the hospital.
“Let’s prevent this health care program from being tainted by irresponsible people who prevent the public health program from running properly,” he said.
The Jakarta Healthy Card (KJS) scheme, one of Joko’s flagship programs, was instituted in November of last year in an attempt to increase the capital’s health service capacity and provide free or low-cost health care to up to 4.7 million people across Jakarta.
The card entitles holders to free medical treatment at community health centers and third-class wards in local hospitals.
Poempida called on the governor to provide more capacity for Jakarta’s overcrowded hospitals.
“If the rooms in the third-class wards are full, KJS patients should be upgraded to second-class wards,” he said.
“I fully support the Jakarta Health Office’s move to conduct an impromptu inspection at Koja to find out how the health services were implemented. Their management is not up to scratch.”
Joko said that he would check the conditions at the hospital himself.
“I want to know why it is so oversubscribed and what’s going wrong there. It used to function fine and I want to know what has gone wrong,” the governor said over the weekend.
Joko said improvements to the scheme were supposed to have helped reduce waiting times at city-run hospitals and community health centers across Jakarta.
“We have solved all the problems that we found in the hospitals. The queues for KJS holders have returned to an acceptable lengths. So how come there are queues again? What happened? This is what I need to check,” he said.
Koja General Hospital, in a slum area of the city, has seen large numbers of KJS holders come in for treatment.
The hospital says it sees around 200 people per day arrive in its emergency unit, sometimes overwhelming the facility.
Excessive waiting times have reportedly created an opportunity for people to sell tickets to patients to jump the lines.
Liputan6.com reported that a woman with a registration ticket numbered 70 was offered lower down for Rp 15,000 ($1.31) so that she would not have to wait as long to see a doctor.
She said a man who claimed to have registered as a patient and received a registration numbered 21 had offered her his ticket because he no longer wanted treatment and had decided to go home.
“All I wanted was treatment and a prescription,” said the woman, who was seeking treatment for migraines.
“But it took so long that I ended up buying my way to the front of the queue.”
The 50-year-old woman said she had waited for hours despite arriving at the hospital very early.
Liputan6.com also reported that dozens of patients were left standing due to a lack of seats.
Jakarta Deputy Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama said the queues were long because Koja General Hospital was the only city-run hospital in North Jakarta.
He added that the city administration planned to build a new hospital there in the near future.
He also called on private hospitals to join the KJS program to help ease the backlog of patients.
Plans to increase the KJS budget were shelved in June, despite mass oversubscription to the scheme.
Patients queue for inpatient rooms at Pasar Rebo General Hospital in East Jakarta. SP Photo/Joanito De Saojoao