Hospital defends PDRC discounts

The director of a privately-run hospital offering discounts to People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) supporters on Tuesday denied discriminating against red-shirts and shrugged off threats against him, confirming that the hospital treats people of all political views.

Dr Rienthong Nanna, director of Mongkutwattana General Hospital in Chaeng Watthana provoked the ire of pro-government and red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) supporters after he announced on his Facebook page on Saturday that the hospital would give special privileges to “friends and family members who share the same ideology as the PDRC and its allies”.

The privileges include being allowed to stay in a standard room for one day free of charge, and receiving a 10% discount rate or public hospital prices for some medicines and services. 

Interested patients were asked to send their home address to Dr Rienthong on Facebook so that privilege cards could be sent to them by post for free. 

Each discount card bears the name of Dr Rienthong and tems of use and can be used only once. 

In a message posted on his Facebook page on Sunday, the medic confirmed “the hospital still welcomes all patients of political beliefs as usual. It does not detest or refuse to treat red-shirts as alleged by some UDD loyalists who tried to provoke their comrades.” 

He said two men launched violent attacks against guards at the PDRC's Chaeng Watthana rally stage on Feb 28 and were injured in the process. They were sent to the hospital where doctors treated them well until one of them recovered and was allowed to go home. Another patient underwent brain surgery and was still being treated in the intensive care unit, he said.  

He added that casualties could occur on both sides of the political divide and said Mongkutwattana Hospital remained duty bound to provide treatment for all, including thugs who incited violence. 

Patients who oppose the hospital’s stance toward the PDRC have the right to seek treatment elsewhere, he said. 

Dr Rienthong has been taking part in PDRC protests himself. He said he and staff at the hospital had been intimidated and harassed by UDD supporters, but insisted he was not afraid. 

Despite this, he called on his intimidators to stop all forms of violence since they could be among the casualties in protest-related violence and sent to his hospital for treatment.

Dr Rienthong Nanna, director of Mongkutwattana Hospital, was at the Chaeng Watthana anti-government protest site when riot police attempted to clear the area on Makha Bucha Day, Feb 14. He explains why he attempted to single-handedly push back a line of officers armed with shields. (Video by Chumporn Sangvilert)

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