Kwong Wah Hospital’s new HK$10 billion building faces widespread issues with warped and detached plywood panels

Kwong Wah Hospital

27th November 2023 – (Hong Kong) Kwong Wah Hospital’s newly constructed building, which cost HK$10 billion, has come under scrutiny due to multiple engineering defects. Shortly after its inauguration in May of this year, numerous instances of warped and even detached plywood panels, were discovered throughout the building. As a result, the hospital has been forced to undertake frequent repairs to address the issues.

Photographs taken inside several disabled restrooms reveal severe warping of the plywood panels. Similarly, the panels adjacent to the sinks in patient rooms also displayed signs of bending, with traces of white glass adhesive visible along the edges.

During a recent inspection conducted by local reporters at Kwong Wah Hospital, it was observed that the bottom panels of the disabled restroom sinks on higher floors appeared to be protruding significantly from the wall with an application of white glass adhesive measuring two fingers in thickness. Furthermore, instances of detached panels were observed in the urinal compartments of the men’s restroom on the lower level.

Individuals familiar with the Kwong Wah Hospital project have expressed concerns over the need for multiple repairs within months of the new building’s inauguration. The plywood panels are believed to possess significant quality issues, possibly due to insufficient density, causing them to deform when exposed to moisture.

Examining the photographs, seasoned engineer Ho Wing-ip confirmed that at least three images clearly displayed instances of defects indicating problems with the quality of the plywood panels. Two of the images were taken within disabled restrooms, while the third was captured near a sink in a patient room. Ho added that two additional pictures also raised suspicions of defects, including one where the bottom panel of a sink exhibited the application of white glass adhesive measuring two fingers in thickness. He questioned how the panels could exhibit signs of deformation within six months and whether substandard materials were used or if the contractors knowingly installed problematic panels.

Ho acknowledged that plywood panels, even in washroom environments, do not typically undergo severe warping. While some degree of warping may occur due to moisture exposure, it should remain within controllable limits by tightening the screws. He emphasised the need to determine whether substandard materials were used for the panels and if the contractors knowingly installed them despite their tendency to deform. The flawed condition could lead to hygiene and aesthetic issues, as it may provide hiding places for insects and foster the growth of bacteria.

In response to the situation, the Hospital Authority acknowledged that the contractor would progressively replace the problematic plywood panels, with overall replacement and repairs expected to be completed in the coming months. They assured the public that the panels’ issues would not pose any additional risks to the hospital’s operations or structural integrity. The authority also stated that they would seek compensation from the contractor for any extra expenses and responsibilities incurred by the Hospital Authority due to non-compliant materials. However, they did not disclose the specifications for the panels or provide information regarding the supplier, quantity, and price of the purchased materials.

The Hospital Authority stated that acceptance inspections had been conducted since October of the previous year. If any repair work was deemed necessary, the contractor would be required to address it, and a one-year maintenance period for repairs would be enforced. The authority acknowledged that the panels could exhibit typical quality flaws, with the contractor bearing the associated costs.