Bedhead systems

Part of one of the repeating sets of controls and electrical/gas/vacuum supplies lining the walls in one of the wards in Prince of Wales Hospital in Hong Kong. Call button and a pull handle to notify someone somewhere else of a dire situation at that spot.
From left: call button receptacle, call button plugged in (button itself dangling) with red reset button overhead, and a red triangular emergency-pull knob with its own reset button above it.

I’ve spent a couple of days in and out of Hong Kong’s Prince of Wales Hospital, not ill myself, but advocating for and looking after a loved one.

All institutions tend to gradually stray from their original missions via seemingly aimless drift, through intentional retargeting by those in positions of authority, or by a combination of the two. Viewed in this light, the apparent ongoing transformation of Hong Kong’s public hospitals into a two-tier system that seems to handle the general public at a glacial pace and with onerous hurdles designed to provide excuses to further delay necessary treatment but which simultaneously caters to and expedites care for civil servants and police officers and their families isn’t particularly shocking. Fortunately, the process hasn’t run to completion yet and enough lip service is still paid to the organization’s original mission that determined individuals can sometimes, through dint of sheer will and forcefulness of personality, succeed in getting things to work mostly as they are ostensibly supposed to work. And that’s all I have to say about that.

A wider view of a short length of bed head system showing electrical outlets and a bit of a call button and emergency-pull section.
A wider view of the same section of bed head system. Not in view: gas and vacuum supply connectors.

The walls of the wards in the hospital are lined with repeating sets of controls and outlets. I’ve since learned that they’re known as bed head or bedhead systems. The patient was moved from one ward to another during their stay and these images are ones I took with my mobile phone of the wall in the first, less crowded, less dingy, and more recently constructed unit.

Some electrical outlets in one section of bed head system.
If you’re a patient in a hospital nowadays and are lain up for a day or more, you will need to charge your phone. Without a functioning phone, even patients who aren’t physically incapacitated will be more isolated and more at the mercy of hospital staff than absolutely necessary. Naturally, however, the hundreds of outlets lining the walls are for medical/hospital use only.