Patients who have asked Mary Chen what she does at Beacon Hospital often do a double take when they find out that she is the founder. But the homely association is not surprising as those warded at the cancer specialist hospital would have met executive director Chen as she goes on her daily rounds after office hours, to chat with and comfort patients, often lending them a shoulder to cry on, as she empathizes with the patients. Since Chen took over the hospital in November 2010 and renamed it Beacon under the suggestion of medical director Datuk Dr Mohamed Ibrahim Abdul Wahid. Equipping the hospital with cutting-edge facilities with the help of Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing, who invested almost RM100 million to bring hi-tech equipment into Malaysia to treat cancer, Chen soon realized that the best equipment is of little use to those who cannot afford to pay, so she came up with corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes so they can have the same high-quality treatment as the rich.
Being a firm believer in her faith in God and Christianity, she agreed to run Beacon Hospital, and managed to convince her older brother Aaron and primary school friend Victor Chia to be involved. Profit-making is not the first priority at Beacon and it does not strive for a six-star environment. Beacon is a way for Chen to pays it forward after everything that she has gone through in her life. The hospital runs in a way that the best possible CSR programmes can be offered to underprivileged patients.
There is still lots to do, such as clinical trials and research aimed at improving cancer care. Chen dreams of opening day care centres for the elderly; nursing homes where those with no one to look after them can stay after they are discharged; and CSR clinics in the rural areas for Malaysians and foreign workers. She also wants to set up a central kitchen to prepare nutritional breakfast and lunch packs which working adults can buy at a reasonable price.