Last week with little fanfare, Yunnan First People's Provincial Hospital and the Xishan Public Security Bureau opened China's first 'Foreigner Alcohol Detoxification Room' (境外人员醒酒治疗室).
Chinese media reports quoted Xishan police officer Zhao Jian as saying that drunk foreigners in Kunming was a growing problem and that he expected many foreigners to be escorted to the hospital for sobering up.
"Last year, there were about 10 incidents in which drunk foreigners needed police help - the year before there were hardly any," Zhao said. "Drunken incidents with foreigners are increasing rapidly, with this detoxification room we can quickly help with their drunken condition and avoid a worsening of their situation."
Foreigners picked up by police for drunkenness will now be escorted to the hospital where a team of English-speaking nurses will help them back to sobriety. Should the nurses need assistance in dealing with drunken 'lao wai', Xishan police will be available to assist.
Hospital vice-director Liu Yuming was quoted in the China Daily as saying, "Police involvement will make the handling of foreign drunkards easier."
The detoxification room is located in the hospital's intensive care unit. Foreigners receiving 'detoxification services' at the hospital will be billed for ICU services.
The hospital is located between the popular Jinma Biji Fang and Kundu bar and entertainment areas and is a short drive from the Cuihu/Yunnan University area. After a trial period, the program is expected to be extended to the entire city.
Piers Tussaud, co-owner of Wenlin Jie pub Chapter One, said the new hospital service for drunk foreigners reflects the increasingly international image of Kunming.
"I consider it a very considerate gesture by the Yunnan government," Tussaud said, "We hope to book the room soon."
According to the China Daily, 50,000 foreigners visited Kunming last year, with a total of 19 alcohol-related incidents recorded over the entire year.
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