An interview with Chairman Dato’ Dr. Foo Wan Kien
In a previous issue of Ipoh Echo 109, Kinta Medical Centre on Jalan Chung Thye Phin announced a major renovation programme that will see all its facilities and medical services upgraded over a two-year period.
Ipoh Echo finally tracked down Chairman of the Board, Dato’ Dr. Foo Wan Kien to learn more about the history of this ‘grand old lady’ of Ipoh hospitals and to understand the motivation for the upgrade and discover what future plans lie ahead.
IE: What is your vision for the Kinta Medical Centre (KMC)?
Dato’ Foo: I want KMC to be known as the best ‘Boutique’ hospital in the Northern region offering warm personalised service and offering the best medical care in certain specialities like orthopaedics, maternity, obstetrics and gynaecology, Internal Medicine, Medical Oncology, Radiology and a 24-hour emergency centre. Our private rooms will be furnished like those in hotels, extremely roomy with an extra bed for loved ones who wish to accompany patients during their stay. All our wards too are being fully refurbished to hotel standard.
IE: How much money is being allocated to the entire refurbishment programme and what else is in the works?
Dato’ Foo: RM5 million has been allocated for the first two years and another RM5 million is being budgeted for the next five.
IE: How do you see KMC as a ‘Boutique’ hospital differing in the services currently being offered by the other hospitals in Ipoh?
Dato’ Foo: Firstly we will be charging reasonable rates in order to build volume which will in turn attract more quality doctors to use our facilities. Secondly, we are a not-for-profit organisation and whatever profits we make will be ploughed back into upgrading and equipment for the benefit of patients. Thirdly we have plans to build a ‘Medical Mall’ on our grounds which, as everyone knows, is ample. With its central location on Jalan Chung Thye Phin and ample parking space, we’re confident that we can attract many independent GPs and specialists to rent clinic space at the mall. This will certainly save many physicians the headache of storing their own pharmaceuticals, and with radiology and a diagnostic centre on premises, will be a boon to their patients who don’t need to travel elsewhere for tests. We’re also exploring setting up either a cosmetic surgery or TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) centre in the mall.
IE: What happened to the charity hospital started by your late father Mr. Foo Yet Kai?
Dato’ Foo: We have been a charity hospital but due to the high cost of medicines and equipment, it is difficult for one family to fund the hospital. We need continuous funding to upgrade the hospital and equipment in line with our vision to provide the best service and to give more confidence to our patients.
IE: So does this mean that KMC will no longer be offering charity medical care?
Dato’ Foo: No, not at all. In fact we are in the midst of making a decision on whether to have a charity dialysis centre on the premises or a charity eye centre. We are still doing our research on which speciality will offer the most good to the largest number of people and what is needed most. This funding will come from the Foo Yet Kai Foundation which is separate from that of KMC. We plan to invite members of NGOs to sit on a committee to vet patients deserving of free medical care. This will be easily facilitated through my network of Lion’s clubs of which I am the Past District Governor of Lions Club International District 308-B2.
IE: What else is the Foo Yet Kai Foundation doing to carry on the family tradition of philanthropy established by your late father?
Dato’ Foo: We have contributed to the building of a new Shen Jai Secondary School together with the Perak Hakka Association in the Seri Botani area. The old school which was started by my late father was named after my grandfather Foo Shen Jai. Further afield in China, we have donated a hospital to my late Father’s village in Xiayang of Yongding in Fujian province.
IE: Well it looks like you have a very full plate in the next few years. As someone who at the tender age of 24 acquired the Alpha Romeo motor franchise and started City Motors, you have since been very successful and involved with cars all your adult life. What else is in store for you or shall we say, up your sleeves?
Dato’ Foo: Well it hasn’t only been cars, I have also done a fair amount of property development, palm oil plantations, and aquaculture. So my activities have been quite diverse. For the future, we’ll see. I plan to do more property development and expand the agriculture sector. I also intend to build a high-rise, probably a hotel, in Ipoh for the purpose of branding of our company’s continuous growth for the next generation to take over.
Ipoh Echo wishes Dato’ Foo much success in all his endeavours in the future.