Experience of a 1-day Professional Visit to Macau
Ms. Eliza M.L. Wong
RN, BSc (Nursing), MHA (UNSW), MN (Deakin)
Lecturer Practitioner, The Nethersole School of Nursing, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
It was a pleasure to have joined a professional visit to Macau which was organized by Hong Kong Society for Nursing Education on 17th August. There were 20 members who joined this visit, including nurse clinicians, nurse administrators and nurse academics. The aims of the visit were to: (1) explore the health care system in Macao; (2) visit the School of Health Studies at the Macau Polytechnic Institute and the Hospital Centre Conde S. Januario of Macao and a community health care center; and (3) exchange ideas and experiences in nursing education, provision of health care between Hong Kong and Macau.
Background of the Hospital Centre Conde S. Januario of Macao
Macau is located on the Southeast coast of China, some 60 kilometres from Hong Kong and 145 kilometres from the city of Guanzhou. Its total area is only 23.8 square kilometres, covering the peninsula of Macao, and the two islands of Taipa and Coloane which are linked by a highway. As of 31st December 2000, Macau's local population numbered 438,000 inhabitants. However, there is also an impressive flow of people in and out of the territory, with an average of 20,000 passengers via ferry and around 50,000 across the border from China everyday (www.macao.gov.mo).
There are two hospitals in Macau. The Hospital Centre Conde S. Januario of Macao is the only government hospital, which is governed and supervised directly by the Department of Health of Macao Special Administrative Region of People's Republic of China. Kiang Wu Hospital, a private hospital, provides alterative choice of health care for Macau people.
The Hospital Center Conde S. Januario of Macao with a history of 120 years, was rebuilt in 1989. It provides a comprehensive range of health care for all citizens of Macau. It has around 427 beds with 28 specialties and 53-inpatient services, which covered a wide range of physical and mental care. The total number of staff was about 1,260 (including 219 doctors, 493 nurses and 107 medical assistant technical workers) (Editorial office, 2002).
The Visit of the Hospital Centre Conde S. Januario of Macao
The main areas of the hospital visit included a dialysis center, an A&E department, a paediatrics unit, an intensive care unit (ICU) and an obstetric unit.
Visits to these sites gave me a brief idea of the health care system in Macau. I have observed that the multi-professional teams work well in different hospital areas. The environment of the hospital is peaceful and comfortable for patients although every unit is smaller in size compared to Hong Kong major hospital setting. On average, a Hong Kong major hospital has at least 1000 beds. However, bed space in the Hospital Centre Conde S. Januario of Macao is even better compared to Hong Kong setting due to the smaller volume of patient flow. The equipment used in the A&E, ICU, and obstetric unit are advanced and very similar to those in Hong Kong practice. Based on my observation, the level of stress of the hospital staff is much less than that of their counterparts in Hong Kong. Nurses and doctors in Hong Kong tend to walk briskly within the hospital campus and talk briefly to their patients. That was not observed during the visit.
However, it is very interesting to note that the patient volume is seasonal which is different from Hong Kong. For example, during Annual Car Racing Campaign, the A&E department, operation theatre, ICU, orthopedic and surgical wards would be busy in managing trauma victims and sick tourists. The whole hospital would be tight in their manpower and resources during the car-racing season.
The people in Macau receive good health care. Some of them can even enjoy free health care including those with special health needs such as pregnant women, children under 10 years, primary and secondary school students, people over 65, patients with cancer, the mentally handicapped, and poor people with health access card issued by the Social Work Service of the Department of Health.
On the whole I found similarities between the health care systems in Hong Kong and Macau. The structure of the services is very similar to Hong Kong although the language use in hospital is mainly Chinese and Portuguese. More or less, the health care reform follows that of Hong Kong such as: (1) staff training and development; (2) telephone booking to reduce waiting time; and the (3) development of technology in coordination with medical techniques to expand the category of services.
This was a pleasant and fruitful visit enjoyed by the group, and was my first visit to the hospital and the nursing school in Macau. It gave me not only a different view of the health care system but also widened my scope of knowledge to the needed health services among people of different cultures. Lastly, I am very grateful to the Hong Kong Society for Nursing Education in providing us with an opportunity to visit this venue and to our Macau colleagues in the hospital, health care center, nursing school who welcomed us warmly and made the visit enjoyable and fruitful.
Web site: www.macau.gov.mo\
Editorial Office (2002). Introduction of the Hospital, hospital Centre Conde S. Januario of Macao. Revista de Ciencia de Saude de Macaul 2(1,2)