As much as the Hong Kong government tries their best to keep everyone safe and sound, life doesn’t stop when a typhoon hits. What if you have a scheduled surgery or facing a medical emergency? We bring you clarity on medical care in a typhoon or black rain signal.
PRIVATE HEALTH SECTOR MEDICAL SERVICES
Rule of thumb: Most clinics close during a T8 or black rainstorm warning. The range of services during a typhoon (T8 or higher) or rainstorm (black) vary across hospitals.
Tip: If you have a surgery that was booked in advance and it appears there may be a T8, you should call in the clinic or hospital beforehand to check the arrangements.
Costs: If a service is available, you will pay a higher premium for it.
Private medical clinics
The majority of private clinics will be closed during a typhoon or rainstorm. Like most workplaces, they will re-open within two hours of the warning signal being lifted; unless it’s after a stipulated time (usually between 1:30 and 3pm – check with your clinic). If you are being followed by a private physician for a specific condition (i.e. pregnancy), it’s worth asking them what to do in the event of a storm.
Check with your clinic if you have an appointment during the closed hours – it’s likely you will be able to re-book for the earliest available appointment slot when the clinic re-opens.
Private hospitals will be open during a typhoon. Like public hospitals, they may be short-staffed due to safety issues of staff travelling in to work.
Keep in mind that many private hospitals and doctor’s fees will have a significant surcharge for procedures carried out during a typhoon. For example, some hospitals charge 1.5 times the normal fee for surgeries or procedures starting during a typhoon and an extra surcharge for obstetrical fees during a typhoon. Specific surcharges are not publicly available for other hospitals.
PUBLIC HEALTH SECTOR MEDICAL SERVICES
Rule of thumb: Only essential services will be offered by the public health system during a typhoon (T8 or higher) or rainstorm (black).
Tip: Follow the news online, TV or the radio for government updates (usually every 30-60 minutes) on extreme weather and the public services available.
Costs: Unlike private sector, there is no surcharge for procedures carried out during a typhoon or rainstorm.
Public Hospital Authority (HA) Hospitals
Hospitals will remain open during a T8+ signal or black rainstorm warning. Because of the safety concerns surrounding staff travelling to work, they may be on limited staff so may only be able to provide essential services.
Going into labour in a typhoon or rainstorm
Just like the rest of the hospital, public maternity wards will remain open for business. Keep in mind that public transit will be down and taxis and Ubers may be slower than usual.
Maternal and Child Health Centres
In the event of a black rainstorm or T8 signal, the Maternal and Child Health Centres (MCHC) will close, like other offices. All MCHC appointments will be cancelled and patients will need to rebook using the online booking system or automated phone booking system.
General Public Out-Patient and Specialist Clinics
If a T8 or higher flag is raised or a black rainstorm warning signal is issued, General Outpatient Clinics’ service will be suspended until the flag is lowered. Service will resume as soon as possible, within 2 hours of the warning being cancelled.
Patients with a missed appointment should re-book using the Telephone Appointment System, which will open up within an hour of the warning being cancelled. Patients with pre-scheduled appointments for a chronic condition should follow the instructions on the back of their appointment slip.
Accident and Emergency Departments
Accident & Emergency Departments (A&E) will remain open. Depending on the nature of the storm, they may be inundated with emergency cases and short staffed so try to avoid the A&E unless it’s medically-necessary.
Ambulances will run as normal though keep in mind there may be a higher volume of calls and their route may be obstructed with storm debris.