Cancer patients and their family members at the hostel built by the National Cancer Hospital in Hanoi. For now, accommodation is free (Photo: VNA)
 
 
Hanoi (VNA/VNS) - Life had become difficult for Ho Nguyen Hoang of Nghe An Province ever since he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and began treatment at the National Cancer Hospital in Hanoi.

And as if fighting cancer wasn’t enough, he and his wife struggled to find somewhere to rest while he was not in the treatment room (for chemotherapy, radiation, etc.).

“We tramped around the hospital’s corridors or sat on the stairs whenever we came here for treatment, like many other patients,” Hoang said.

The recent opening of a low-cost hostel by the hospital has come as a big relief for Hoang and his wife, as also other patients and their relatives.  

The hostel is located at the hospital’s branch in Tan Trieu Commune, Thanh Tri District.

His wife applauded the move. The hostel, now free of charge for patients and their caretakers, has clean rooms and warm multiple-deck beds.

“If only the hospital had opened this hostel earlier,” she said, adding, “better late than never, of course.”

Another patient, Bui Van Tuan, from Vinh Phuc Province, said that he was undergoing Chemical Exchange Saturation Transfer (CEST), but the ward was overcrowded. He had to share a bed with other patients, so he went to the hostel to sleep with his brother Bui Van Sau.

Sau told the Kinh te & Do thi (Economic and Urban Affairs) newspaper that he heard about the free hostel at Tan Trieu branch of National Cancer Hospital early this month, but did not expect to get free accommodation there because the hospital was usually overcrowded.

“When I completed hospital readmission papers for my brother, a staff instructed me to apply for accommodation at the hostel,” Sau said.

“The free accommodation reduces difficulties that we face during the fight against cancer,” he said.  

Nguyen Van Nam of Ha Nam Province was diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer three years ago. The pale man was increasingly exhausted after days of chemotherapy, but said that he was luckier than many other people as he was still alive. However, his life had become a big burden on the family, he said.

“Health insurance covers 80 percent of medical costs and my family has to borrow money to pay the rest.”
“Previously, I used to undergo CEST during the day and sleep under stairs or in the hospital yard at night because I didn’t have money to rent a place to sleep.

 “Sometimes it rained when I was sleeping. I quickly carry my blanket and ran to the stairs. Sleeping in the open, I also had to fight against mosquitoes, especially on days with high humidity,” Nam said, smiling.

He spoke with happiness about the free hostel, where he could sleep on a warm bed, and chit-chat with others. These were moments when he seemed to forget his illness.

Tran Van Thuan, Director of the National Cancer Hospital, said that the 240-bed low-cost hostel, opened in late February, expects to provide comfortable accommodation for patients and their families. It would also help reduce congestion and improve hygiene at the hospital.

In the very days of its opening, more than 500 people have registered to stay there, he said.

The hospital arranges accommodation for about 300 people as some rest during the day and others need a place to sleep at night.

For now, the hospital provides free accommodation for patients and their caretakers at the hostel, but in the coming months a payment of 15,000 VND per bed per day would be charged. This is much cheaper than what people usually pay outside, 80,000-100,000 VND per day, according to patients.

Thuan said that Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien had urged the hospital many times to arrange a hostel for patients and their family members.

“As a doctor, I feel the pain, the sadness, stress and difficulties that patients and their families have to suffer,” Thuan said.

“Nothing is more hopeless than the situation in which the doctors know about the patients’ illness but fail to save them,” he said, adding that this made him very eager to provide some relief to the patients, to somehow ease their burden.

“This is why the National Cancer Hospital opened the low-cost hostel, although we ourselves face many difficulties including overcrowding and shortage of facilities,” he said.

The hospital has also taken 15 measures and successfully introduced advanced techniques to improve examination and treatment, he added.

The low-cost hostel was built with an investment of nearly 3 billion VND (133,000 USD), funded by Thai CP Group.

According to the National Institute for Cancer Control, more than 160,000 new cancer patients are detected in the country every year. There are 115,000 cancer deaths every year.- VNA