Seoul mayor calls for new hospital to treat diseases

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Seoul mayor calls for new hospital to treat diseases

Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon on Tuesday suggested the central government establish a hospital specialized in treating infectious diseases and transfer the National Medical Center in central Seoul to an empty spot nearby that was previously used by the U.S. military.

 
The mayor also requested central government authorities to consider establishing a national trauma center, stressing the need to improve Korea’s public health care system to better respond to major health crises in the future like the coronavirus pandemic.  
 
“As seen in the cluster infections of Daegu and North Gyeongsang,” Park said Tuesday during an online press briefing from Seoul City Hall, Korea “needs to further strengthen its public health care system” to “effectively harness nationwide medical resources and capabilities no matter where mass infections of a disease pop up, whether that be Seoul or anywhere else in the country.”
 
Park urged the central government to make “a bold decision” to establish a hospital specialized in treating infectious diseases as soon as possible.
 
The Seoul mayor also suggested the central government transfer the National Medical Center, currently in Euljiro, Jung District, central Seoul, to Bangsan-dong, Jung District, which was previously occupied by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The land in Bangsan-dong currently lies empty and is owned by the Ministry of National Defense.
 
Park specifically asked the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Ministry of National Defense to start discussions on the issues, saying the Seoul Metropolitan Government was prepared to cooperate with the ministries as soon as possible.
 
Discussions between the Seoul city government and the central government to transfer the National Medical Center have been on and off since 2003, given the outdated facilities and need to enlarge the compounds.  
 
The central government initially planned to transfer the medical center to Wonji-dong, Seocho District, southern Seoul, and to facilitate this, the Seoul Metropolitan Government signed a memorandum of understanding with the Seocho District Office in 2014.
 
But last September, the medical center announced that the transfer plan to Seocho has fallen through, saying the land was unfit for a public health care facility and citing high construction costs to block noise coming from adjacent roads.  
 
BY YOUN SANG-UN   [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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