Speech of Mdm. LAM Kwan
Chairman of the 73rd Board of Directors (2022-2023)
Throughout its extraordinary 103-year history of service, Pok Oi Hospital has continued to honour its motto of ‘We Love, We Care, We Serve’, weathering storms big and small with the community of Hong Kong and seeking to contribute to its welfare, harmony, and development. Today, Pok Oi offers a diverse range of services from Chinese and Western medicine, dentistry, elderly care, youth, child and family services, education and housing projects for working class communities. Our service units are spread across Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories, benefitting over 1.5 million across all groups and sectors in our society.
Having been part of Pok Oi for many years, I have personally participated in and witnessed its gradual growth and constant innovations. This year, I have been fortunate enough to accept the role of Chairman of the Board. With the support from my colleagues on the Board, I shall endeavour to build on the impressive foundation that my untiring predecessors have established to further cater to the needs of our society and carry on the Pok Oi legacy. The following is a summary of our work plans and development for the coming year.
‘Pok Oi Kong Ha Wai Village’ marked a brand-new project area for Pok Oi, initiated in response to the Hong Kong government’s call for more transitional housing to alleviate the pressing problems of housing shortage among working class communities in the city. As one of Hong Kong’s largest transitional housing projects, ‘Pok Oi Kong Ha Wai Village’ is situated in Yuen Long and provides temporary residence for working-class families awaiting public housing, as it hopes to relieve them
of significant financial burden as well as the undue emotional pressures of living in poor conditions. The project has received funding from the Transport and Housing Bureau, a site loan from Henderson Land Development, and support from many different professional groups and individuals. As a non-profit operation for Pok Oi, it aims to provide human-centred community service to its residents. The construction work is due for completion at the end of 2022, supplying 1,998 units that could ultimately benefit a total of 40,000 residents.
The first batch of units is expected to be ready by the end of Q1, 2022, at which time residents will be able to start moving into their new homes, which would hopefully offer better living conditions and help them begin a new chapter in their lives. Based on a community-centred approach that aims to cater to residents’ daily needs and foster neighborliness, the ‘Pok Oi Kong Ha Wai Village’ has been planned and designed in a way to facilitate interaction between residents, meet their needs and cultivate a positive atmosphere. Thus, a host of ancillary services have been introduced with the aim of injecting vitality into the area, including two integrated service buildings that offer basic facilities (small-scale wet markets and convenience stores), community canteens and restaurants, medical services (Chinese and Western medicine, dentistry), and community services (elderly daycare, youth services, child and family services).
Apart from its efforts to solve the housing shortage problem for working class families, Pok Oi has also launched a ‘Matching Savings Plan’ to encourage residents to save up for the future. Each household in the plan saves HK$200 per month, and the hospital will match HK$100. At the end of their lease, residents can withdraw the lump sum as a cash fund for moving out of the transitional housing. While operating the ‘Pok Oi Kong Ha Wai Village’, the hospital will leave spaces open for emergency applications who may need it due to special, unforeseen circumstances or difficulties. For cases with special needs, we will try to let residents renew their lease and stay until they are allocated public housing, or until the end of the project.
To enhance the supply of short-term residences and to provide affordable, appropriate transitional homes for low-income families awaiting public housing, Pok Oi has established another important housing project for grassroot communities: the ‘Ta Kwu Ling Ping Che Transitional Housing Project’. After much effort to secure initial agreement from all relevant parties, we have received approval for our plans from the Town Planning Board in January, and funding support totalling $340,000,000 from the Transport and Housing Bureau. We hope to begin construction work in Q4 this year, ultimately aiming to provide around 600 residence units that will offer new, improved homes for working-class families in need. Also, through a variety of community services and public spaces in the planned area, we seek to enhance community interaction and provide an ideal haven for residents as they settle into their new lives.
Due to the city’s ageing population, there is an ever-increasing demand for comprehensive and appropriate elderly care services in Hong Kong. Pok Oi is delighted that Henderson Land Development has donated a piece of land at Fuk Hang Tsuen Road, Tuen Mun Lam Tei to us, for the purposes of constructing Hong Kong’s biggest residential care home for the elderly (RCHE), POH Tuen Mun Lam Tei Nursing and Residential Care Home for the Elderly. Thanks to the support from various government departments, early-stage assessment and surveying work is now complete, and we are also wrapping up the final stages of our planning and design phase. We expect to complete construction work as soon as 2025 to 2026, after which 1434 places will be available for elderly residents with various health needs.
Committed to improving the level of care provided for our elderly residents, the Tuen Mun Lam Tei Nursing and Residential Care Home for the Elderly Steering Committee has been set up, comprising Pok Oi Board members and professionals from elderly care, nursing, construction, finance and property development. Together, they help supervise and guide the work of the RCHE, so as to make full use of our diverse and technologically advanced facilities to provide the best possible experience for our residents.
In recent years, the Hong Kong government has been keen to promote primary care, and has plans to establish ‘District Health Centres’ (DHCs) and ‘DHC Expresses’. Through public-private partnerships, these centres aim to provide district-based healthcare that reduces the service pressure of the public health system in the long term, by promoting health, disease management and prevention to strengthen the public’s self-health management abilities and enhance the treatment efficacy of chronic illnesses in the community. To facilitate and align ourselves with Hong Kong’s public health policy, Pok Oi has successfully obtained permission to operate the Yuen Long DHC, which includes a main centre, three subsidiary sites and three service points, which are expected to begin service in 2022. With our roots in the Yuen Long community, our services have long received considerable support from local organisations and residents. We will continue to uphold our belief in offering community-based services and also capitalise on our many years of experience in serving Yuen Long to help develop primary care services in the district. Ultimately, our goal is to gradually help local residents establish a healthy lifestyle and increase the channels through which the public can access quality healthcare.
The 5th wave of the COVID-19 epidemic has seen a surge in case numbers, which has increased the need for medical services delivered via video conferencing, particularly among working-class patients. To help affected communities fight the virus and get timely, appropriate treatment, patients who have been tested positive are offered a one-stop, long-distance Chinese medicine service package, including consultation, diagnosis, dispensing and logistical delivery. Through a simple mobile phone app, self-isolating COVID patients are given diagnostic and consultation support by our Chinese medicine practitioners. Apart from such remote Chinese medicine consultation services, the app also carries other functions, such as appointment booking and enquiries. In other words, apart from emergency epidemic support, these measures can, in the long run, offer help and appropriate diagnosis and treatment services to patients living in distant areas in the New Territories, or those who have mobility issues. This would minimise the risk of worsening health symptoms caused by delays, adding an extra layer of protection for the public.
Pok Oi is dedicated to providing diverse preventative and supportive services to working-class families and children. Over the years, we have worked hard to establish district networks and uncover local resources to help promote the messages of ‘mutual care’ and ‘social inclusion’. In the coming year, our team will be devoting our efforts on the following:
Children are the future of our society. Pok Oi has long been organising a myriad of activities and events to encourage whole-person development and unlock children’s potential. Thanks to funding from Funding Scheme for Children’s Well-being and Development, we have been able to launch the More than Games: Children Development Program at Pok Oi child and youth centres. The scheme will begin officially this year and last two years. Mainly through parent education and a diverse range of activities, we hope to promote the importance of games and sport to the healthy development of children.
Pok Oi is delighted to have received sponsorship from the Community Investment and Inclusion Fund for two of its programmes in Tuen Mun and Tsing Yi. Following its success with ‘Butterfly Age-friendly Network’ from 2019 to 2021, our Tuen Mun Butterfly Bay centre has again been awarded funding from the Community Investment and Inclusion Fund for ‘Butterfly Age-friendly Network II’ (2022-2024). The focus of the project will be on enhancing community members’ understanding of the needs of dementia patients and their families, helping them getting the care they need at home, and fostering neighbourly support.
Likewise, the Tsing Yi Chueng Hang centre’s application for funding has also been approved by the same Fund for Link UP Tsing Yi Island (2021-2023), which organises family activities and small groups to enhance residents’ physical, mental and spiritual well-being, as well as reinforce their familial bonds. This year, we will continue to run activities and events as part of this programme to build support networks and form harmonious communities.
The volatility of the COVID-19 epidemic has greatly affected the distribution and delivery of social support and resources, thus increasing the mental and physical toll on carers of mental health patients. The two-year ‘Better．Together’—Carer Support Program was introduced out of concern for people with mental health needs, and was approved for funding support from the Mental Health Initiatives Funding Scheme. Through a series of positive, anti-stress activities and the support from professional teams, the project offers relief to family members and carers of mental health patients, allaying them of their pressures and negative emotions. We hope to provide some breathing space for them as they find renewed motivation and energy to face any upcoming challenges head-on.
Under the motto of ‘Erudition and Virtue’, Pok Oi and its subsidiary schools have always sought to nurture students’ loving spirit and create an environment conducive to learning under the professional leadership and educators in our schools. In total, we operate three secondary schools, one primary school, and five kindergartens and nurseries, providing excellent education services for our students, facilitating their balanced, whole-person development.
Pok Oi firmly believes that education should progress with the times, especially in a society that is quickly advancing. Traditionally, primary English lessons are mostly one-way and teacher-led, and students’ learning experiences are relatively passive. Starting this year, Pok Oi Hospital Chan Kwok-Wai Primary School will be reforming its school-based English curriculum. With reference to the teaching strategies in IB Primary Years Programme (IPPYP), the proposed changes aim to improve the lower primary English curriculum and enhance its traditional pedagogical approach. The new mode of learning is inquiry-based, encouraging students to reflect and ask more questions, so as to develop abilities for building and discovering new knowledge independently, and give them greater satisfaction in their education. During the process, students can acquire skills for autonomous learning and foster a proactive attitude towards seeking out new knowledge, effectively transitioning from passive to active learning. Further, to enhance teaching quality, the school has increased the total number of Native-speaking English Teachers (NETs) to three, thereby offering students more opportunities to apply English in an authentic context, and to communicate and collaborate with classmates and teachers.
The long-lasting epidemic has brought significant impact to Hong Kong’s economy and the livelihoods of its people, and in turn, this has affected our fund-raising activities to a certain degree. During the epidemic, our teams have steadfastly remained in their roles as they continued to provide specific community services to disadvantaged groups in society, alleviating them of some of their most pressing concerns and needs. We are most grateful for the selfless generosity from our many donors, who hail from different parts of society. Their ample donations have helped us provide timely anti-epidemic resources and support to those in need. At the same time, our colleagues have also been making appropriate adjustments to our fund-raising strategy, so that this year, on top of some of our usual fund-raising activities, we can introduce other innovative elements. With the help and support from various groups, we hope to organise several exciting, large-scale events, including Pok Oi Virtual Cycle for Millions and Pok Oi x Old Master Q Hong Kong Charity Run. We believe that goodwill travels far, and that the spirit of love and generosity can still spread despite obstacles and physical boundaries.
Under the leadership of Dr. Jim Lee and the Board, Pok Oi was able to launch many beneficial schemes and achieve impressive results that we are proud of. I would like to hereby express my sincere thanks to Chairman Lee on behalf of the 73rd Board of Directors. It is an immense pleasure to see Pok Oi services continue to expand and bring positive impact to more and more people in the community, offering care and support to every underprivileged family in the city.
At the same time, we look forward to continue to find ways to improve and capitalise on Pok Oi’s century-old history and legacy of philanthropy. This includes expanding our portfolio of charitable resources, further raising our reputation, reaffirming our values and beliefs, and establishing new models for fund-raising, so that more people in society can learn about Pok Oi, join Pok Oi, and above all, benefit from Pok Oi.
It is my profound honour to have the support of our colleagues as Chairman of the 73rd Board of Directors. I look forward to joining hands with members of the new Board, building on our past foundation as we continue to uphold the Pok Oi principle of ‘We Love, We Care, We Serve’. It will be our duty and privilege to create more opportunities to serve more disadvantaged groups and help create a more harmonious and inclusive society.
Mdm. LAM Kwan
Chairman of the 73rd Board of Directors