Bigger May Not Be Better for China’s ‘Super Hospitals’

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Just before midnight, the pavement outside the glowing high-rise towers of the First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University is littered with slumbering bodies. Splayed on colorful mats or tucked into folding cots, these are patients’ relatives.

Inside, beds line hallways and crowd elevator lobbies, while relatives share gurneys with patients and doze in brightly lit stairwells. The world’s biggest hospital with about 7,000 beds, Zhengzhou First Affiliated, in central China, is still not big enough.

“My dad paid for a bed but still couldn’t get one,” said Ma Wenxiao, a university student from the central city of Wuhan, whose father waited two days for a bed after traveling to Zhengzhou for chemotherapy.

Demand for healthcare is booming in China, driven by a growing middle class, improved health insurance coverage and an aging population. In response, some of the country’s public hospitals are adding beds by the thousand.

China now has 16 public hospitals with more than 3,000 beds. NewYork-Presbyterian, the largest hospital in the United States according to Becker’s Hospital Review, has 2,478 beds.

But unlike the rest of the economy, where China wants growth, this expansion has policymakers worried.

Source: Reuters (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
public health