DP calls for probe into Jinju hospital case

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DP calls for probe into Jinju hospital case

Wednesday’s announcement by the South Gyeongsang Provincial Government to shut down Jinju Medical Center has drawn immediate backlash from civic and political groups as well as a medical workers’ union, all condemning provincial Gov. Hong Joon-pyo for leading the forced closure and demanding the ruling Saenuri Party state its clear stance on the issue.

The major opposition Democratic Party yesterday called for a special legislative investigation into the case and the South Gyeongsang government for its unilateral decision to close down the 103-year-old medical center.

“The Saenuri Party must not just stand idly by and watch the governor along with the Saenuri membership shut down the center,” said Jun Byung-hun, newly elected floor leader of the DP.

“The DP strongly demands a legislative probe into the case regarding the abuse of authority by Gov. Hong in shutting down [the Jinju center].”

The DP’s spokesman Park Yong-jin said during a press briefing at the National Assembly that the ruling party should show a clear stance on the issue if the Saenuri Party is sincere about its commitment to expand the public medical service.

With the closure decision now spiraling into a political fight, some four dozen members of the Jinju center labor union, which has been severely criticized by the governor for only pursuing its own interests rather than the patients’, began a sit-in protest at the nation’s second-oldest public hospital.

With the ongoing protest inside the center, three remaining patients at the cash-strapped medical center are refusing to look for other medical institutions.

The three patients are reported to be family members of the labor union members.

Just outside of the medical gate another protest has been waged by some 30 union members demanding the provincial government withdraw its closure announcement.

The local police have barricaded the gate with police transportation buses to prevent an additional number of hardline union members from getting inside.

In a show of resolve to settle the issue, the provincial government yesterday said it will lodge a complaint against them for interfering with the duties of public officials.

After 92 days of bickering and controversy surrounding the fate of the medical center, the provincial government, headed by the former chairman of the Saenuri Party, declared the center’s closure, citing an accumulated loss of 28 billion won ($24.8 million) and an annual loss of 7 billion won incurred by the troubled medical institution.

The closure of the heavily money-losing medical center still faces a few more hurdles with a bill pending at the South Gyeongsang Provincial Council.

By Hwang Sun-yoon, Kang Jin-kyu [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]
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