Shelter for the homeless

Johor Hospital is home to many who bathe, sleep and use it as a place of rest and relaxation

Hospital Sultanah Amininah (HSA), one of the most busy public healthcare facilities in Malaysia, treats thousands of patients every day.

It becomes a homeless shelter at night.

Some of them choose to stay in the hospital throughout the day to use the electric sockets to charge their phones.

The 57-year old homeless man who refused to be identified said that he had “moved” into HSA because he couldn’t afford to rent an apartment after he got out of prison a few months back.

He said, “My family lives in Kluang while I’m alone in the city.”

The man went to the city center to get free food from non-governmental organizations and also a vegetarian restaurant located opposite the Johor Baru Ancient Temple.

“I worked in construction before being jailed. “It’s hard to find a job as an ex-convict and my arms and legs also are weak,” said he.

He said that he did not know how to get social welfare assistance. He said that he, along with other homeless people “return” at night to HSA where they sleep on link chairs and shower in the hospital’s restrooms.

He added, “I believe that as long as we don’t disturb patients or cause trouble, the hospital won’t take action against us.”

Ling Tian Soon, the chairman of the Johor Health and Environment Committee said that he had received complaints from homeless people who were sleeping in hospitals without permission. This raised health and safety concerns.

He said that HSA is the only hospital in Johor Baru to have this problem, and it’s likely due to the location of the hospital.

As it gets later and the hospital becomes less busy, the individuals who are staying the night will appear in a quiet manner with their luggage. Then, they will pack their luggage and leave the next morning.

This has been going on for a while. He said that the hospital staff had tried to prevent them from sleeping in the room before, but the patients became aggressive and created a scene. So the staff let them go.

Ling stated that he had seen the homeless using the benches and chairs at HSA to rest during his night checks. He added that each night, the number of people sleeping at HSA varied and could reach up to 20 people. Most of the people were in their 40s or 50s.

He added that “they choose to seek refuge at HSA instead of on the streets, because the hospital has well-lit, a clean environment and toilets.”

Khairin Nisa Ismail, the state women’s, family, and community development committee chair, and Ling recently conducted a cleanup operation to collect homeless people at various places, including HSA.

Multiple government agencies were involved in the operation, including the police department and Social Welfare Department. The relevant agencies provided assistance to nine homeless people including four from HSA. They also explained how they could apply for social welfare benefits if eligible.

The authorities will also assist the homeless in finding employment and place the elderly into welfare homes.

He added that those with mental issues would be sent to receive the support and treatment they need.

In the same recent operation, officers found a metal rod with a sharp tip in a man’s bag.

He said, “He was given to the police.”

Ling also added that it was found that many homeless people carried pillows and travel bags. He added that the state government had carried out 10 cleaning operations to rid the city’s streets of drug addicts and homeless people, including along Sungai Segget and Jalan Wong A Fook.

He said that in order to improve the security, cleanliness, and image of Johor, there would be continuous efforts to reduce the homeless population.

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