Some private hospitals to solely treat Covid patients
New Sungmin Hospital in Incheon is one of the first private general hospitals that will do so. As the daily number of people who tested positive for Covid-19 hit the thousands and the forecast shortage of beds turned into a reality, the hospital decided to designate itself as a hospital for severely ill patients with Covid-19.
About 160 patients currently at New Sungmin must be transferred to another hospital or discharged within the coming weeks. The hospital intends to use all 250 of its beds to treat Covid-19 patients.
“There are people dying because there are not enough I.C.U. beds to treat Covid-19 patients. This is an medical emergency,” said hospital chief Park Seong-jun in an interview with the JoongAng Ilbo on Thursday.
"What is the point of being a doctor if we do not set out to save lives?"
Park added that his hospital signed up to become a dedicated Covid-19 treatment facility because there were no other private general hospitals in Incheon that did so.
Although the hospital only has 25 doctors, Park said that it is due to receive more personnel and equipment once it becomes a Covid-19 facility.
"The [private] medical sector needs to step up in order to deal with this crisis,” Kim said. “We hope that hospitals in other areas will also join the effort.”
“We received a call from the Health Ministry, and I assumed it would be a request to dedicate 10 to 20 percent of our I.C.U. beds to Covid-19 patients because we had already allocated 5 percent of our I.C.U. beds to Covid-19 patients,” said Hanyang Hospital chief Jang Jin-hyeok.
“However, the ministry asked that we become a dedicated Covid-19 treatment center because we were one of the few hospitals near Seoul that is equipped to treat Covid-19 patients.”
Jang admitted he was taken aback by the ministry’s request, but that the hospital management held an internal conference after the call and decided to only treat Covid-19 patients in light of the country’s mounting caseload.
“We saw that there was no easy exit from a situation in which university hospital emergency rooms are overflowing with Covid-19 patients and those showing serious symptoms continue to increase daily,” Jang explained. “We realized that somebody has to volunteer for this task.”
When asked if there was any pushback from staff, Jang said that not one person objected to the hospital becoming a Covid-19 treatment facility.
“We talked to 300 of our staff, and not one person wanted to jump ship. When I explained to them that there would be no hospital left untouched by the current Covid-19 crisis, all of them accepted our decision,” Jang said.
While Hanyang Hospital plans to begin operations as a dedicated Covid-19 center on Dec. 17, it will continue to run basic medical services for local residents from a detached building located 10 minutes by foot from the main building.
“We can’t turn our backs on people who regularly come to our hospital,” Jang explained. “The detached facility won’t be a fully equipped medical hospital, but it will be able to meet the basic needs of locals.”
BY MICHAEL LEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]