Daegu hospital returns to normal operations

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Daegu hospital returns to normal operations

Nurses at Keimyung University Daegu Dongsan Hospital in Daegu wave to the camera last month during a break from treating coronavirus patients. [YONHAP]

Nurses at Keimyung University Daegu Dongsan Hospital in Daegu wave to the camera last month during a break from treating coronavirus patients. [YONHAP]

Suh Young-sung’s hospital in Daegu has received more than 1,000 Covid-19 patients during the pandemic — nearly 10 percent of Korea’s total case load — after it became the first private hospital in the nation to specialize in coronavirus treatment.  
 
Now, as the number of new daily cases in the region has slowed to almost zero, Keimyung University Daegu Dongsan Hospital will reopen for non-Covid-19 patients on June 15, for the first time in nearly 100 days.
 
“I don’t want people to think of our hospital as the ‘Covid-19-polluted hospital,’” Suh, the hospital's head, recently told the JoongAng Ilbo. “Our medical staff will do our best to treat patients once operations normalize, just as we gave our all to treating the coronavirus.”
 
Early in the coronavirus outbreak, the hospital had to transfer all its previously hospitalized patients to other nearby medical centers and halt out-patient services in more than 20 departments. Hospital staff emptied beds and made space for hundreds of people that flooded in after contracting the deadly disease.  
 
Daegu had become the epicenter of Korea’s Covid-19 outbreak after a huge cluster — the largest to date — emerged from a church building used by the Shincheonji sect in mid-February. At the height of the outbreak, three-digit increases of new infections were being confirmed each day, nearly all of which emerged from the city and the surrounding province of North Gyeongsang.
 
There are still 16 Covid-19 patients who are receiving treatment at the hospital, all with mild symptoms. A senior nurse told the JoongAng Ilbo that the patients, all of whom were hospitalized in the main building, have been moved to a different building to make way for incoming non-Covid-19 patients.  
 
The entire hospital was disinfected on May 26, and hygiene specialists were recently called in to confirm that its areas open to non-Covid-19 patients are free of virus contamination. The results of that examination have yet to be released.
 
Keimyung University Daegu Dongsan Hospital began specializing in Covid-19 treatment on Feb. 21, just two days after the first case in the Daegu Shincheonji cluster was reported by health officials. At its peak on March 19, there were 395 Covid-19 patients hospitalized.
 
The hospital struggled with a dearth of medical professionals and equipment at first, but donations soon poured in from all corners of society, and 439 doctors and nurses offered to volunteer. By the end of May, a total of 1,022 coronavirus patients had been treated at the Daegu hospital.
 
BY KIM YOUN-HO   [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr] 

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