View of  the Island Hospital in Penang city at day time. It's a mulitstorey building with blue panelling on the facade and a street level carpark.; View of  the Island Hospital in Penang city at day time. It's a mulitstorey building with blue panelling on the facade and a street level carpark.;

Island Hospital Expansion, Penang

Penang’s new hospital strengthens patient connections and resilience

Island Hospital is a recently expanded 600-bed hospital in Penang, the largest private hospital in the northern region of Malaysia and a leading tertiary care provider providing patients with access to over 100 specialists.

We have been working with Island Hospital to expand the hospital providing civil, structural and geotechnical services. Originally a 300-bed hospital, Island Hospital had a vision to expand to meet local needs and the increasing demand for medical tourism. We designed the 12-storey Peel Wing, a patient-centric healthcare facility hosting the newest specialties and health centres of excellence.

While the hospital is well known for its quality of care and patient outcomes, it has also achieved a Penang first with a 120-metre underpass walkway beneath live traffic to transport patients and specialists between hospital wings. Innovative engineering helped keep patients, practitioners and road users safe during construction.

The expansion supports the Penang State Government’s commitment towards elevating medical tourism and its vision to become the ‘Medical City of Asia.’

Project Summary

12storey hospital building

120metreunderpass walkway

300additional beds

Connecting patients to critical care with Malaysia’s first medical underpass

Keeping patients, practitioners and the public safe and connected was an important part of this project to achieve Island Hospital’s vision.

Following the successful public-private collaboration with the Penang State, the hospital was able to lease land on the opposite side of Lebuhraya Peel. To maintain compliance with Malaysia’s Ministry of Health, it was essential for the new Peel Wing and the older Macalister wing to have seamless connectivity to function as one medical facility.

Our team was challenged with designing infrastructure to connect the old and new hospital wings without disrupting traffic flow during construction.

We designed Malaysia’s first medical underpass walkway beneath live highway traffic. The 120-metre underpass walkway’s structure is designed using permanent sheet piles, sections of sheet steel with interlocking edges, usually used during construction for temporary earth retention.

Sheet piles proved to be an effective solution for minimising vibration, deep excavation and acting as a temporary and permanent shaft for the lists connecting the new underpass to the Macalister Wing, saving space and achieving the required dimensions.

Together with the construction team, we planned and implemented a traffic diversion plan to ensure road users had uninterrupted access to the highway during construction.

The most challenging aspect was to design the seamless patient journey between the two hospital buildings. We thank Arup for being our partner in this journey and look forward to putting Island Hospital and Malaysia healthcare on the world map. ” Lim Kooi Ling Chief of Staff, Island Hospital

A woman is walking along a corriodor in a hospital A woman is walking along a corriodor in a hospital
A medical underpass connects the old and new wings of Island Hospital © Island Hospital Sdn Bhd

Structural and civil engineering ensures hospital resilience

The underpass walkway is structurally independent of the hospital wings and supported by different foundation systems. Telescopic joint with water-stop was introduced at each interface to accommodate any lateral or vertical movement.

Inside each wing we designed ground floor staircases one metre above road level to access the underpass. This design safeguards medical facilities in the basement from flood water flowing inside the underpass and basement.

A waterproofing membrane is laid between sheet piles and the underpass walls to create a barrier from any water seepage. C40 concrete with waterproofing admixture was used for the underpass walls reducing porosity and risk of seepage. The underpass slab is also designed to drain water to one area where pump sumps discharge seepage outside the structure.

We are proud to be a part of Island Hospital expansion that marks the first step towards realising Island Hospital and Penang State Government’s shared vision of positioning Penang as the ‘Medical City of Asia’. ” Wong Sik Kwang Wong Sik Kwang Project Director

A step towards creating the Island Medical City

In November 2022, the Peel Wing and underpass was officially launched by the Penang Chief Minister, Chow Kon Yeow. The expanded Island Hospital now boasts an additional 300 beds and 14 operating theatres, making it the largest private hospital in the northern region of Malaysia.

The expansion is a critical step forward for the creation of the Island Medical City – a medical precinct city of medical facilities, hotels and residences. Island Hospital is a centrepiece in the project’s masterplan.