14 hospitals across country now operating just for Covid

Home > National > Social Affairs

print dictionary print

14 hospitals across country now operating just for Covid

Medical staff in Level D protective suits give the O.K. hand sign in a negative pressure room in Hyemin Hospital, a Covid-19-dedicated hospital in Gwangjin District, eastern Seoul, on Tuesday. [WOO SANG-JO]

Medical staff in Level D protective suits give the O.K. hand sign in a negative pressure room in Hyemin Hospital, a Covid-19-dedicated hospital in Gwangjin District, eastern Seoul, on Tuesday. [WOO SANG-JO]

 
More private hospitals across the country are dedicating themselves to treating solely Covid-19 patients as Korea continues to see a record number of critical cases.

 
According to the Central Disaster Management Headquarters on Tuesday, a total of eight hospitals were newly designated as hospitals specifically for patients with Covid-19. The eight are: Gimpo Woori Hospital, Gumdan Top General Hospital, Jainmedi Hospital, Serim General Hospital, Chung Hospital, Kangnam General Hospital, Davos Hospital and Hallym Hospital. St. Peter's Hospital in Uijeongbu will also soon be designated.
 
Some of those hospitals, like Kangnam General Hospital and Davos Hospital, had already dedicated some of their facilities to the treatment of Covid-19 patients, but now all of their beds will be used for virus treatment.
 
With more hospitals joining the cause, Korea’s total number of Covid-19 dedicated hospitals nationwide has increased to 14. The newly designated 12 hospitals are expected to provide around 2,700 hospital beds.
 
Hyemin Hospital, New Sungmin Hospital and Hanyang Hospital had already been turned into dedicated Covid-19 centers from mid-December. Bagae Hospital and Bestian Hospital have also been operating as such since the third wave of the pandemic in December last year.
  
“When we persuaded the heads of small and medium-sized hospitals from the regions of Chungcheong, Jeolla and Daegu [to switch to operating as a Covid-19-dedicated hospital] at a meeting held Tuesday, many responded positively,” an official from the headquarters said. “We believe we can increase the number of Covid-19-dedicated hospitals from 14 to 20 by the end of this month.”
 
Such plans are in line with the recent decision of Seoul National University Hospital (SNUH) — one of the biggest national university hospitals in Korea — to earmark more Covid-19 hospital beds for patients critically ill with the virus.
 
SNUH director Kim Yon-su declared in a recent interview with the JoongAng Ilbo that the hospital will allocate some 100 more hospital beds and work together with three other hospitals — Inje University Paik Hospital, Bumin Hospital and Daerim St. Mary’s Hospital — to transfer its intensive care unit (I.C.U.) patients who have recovered from Covid to other smaller hospitals. Critically ill Covid-19 patients often suffer from underlying diseases and have to stay in I.C.U.s even after they recover from the virus — making it difficult for new critical Covid patients to find an available bed.
 
The latest designations of hospitals in Korea are aimed at giving health systems more breathing space amid soaring Covid-19 cases and critical patients.
 
The country’s critical cases once again jumped above the 1,000-mark, with 1,022 critically ill patients as of Monday midnight.
 
Critical cases refer to those who require oxygen treatment (such as high-flow oxygen therapy), mechanical ventilation (being put on a respirator), extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) or continuous renal replacement therapy (CRRT).
 
The number climbed by 25 from the previous day, coming close to Sunday’s all-time high of 1,025.
 
The elderly aged 60 or older accounted for 85.3 percent of the total critical cases, including 368 people in their 70s, 352 people in their 60s and 152 people in their 80s.
 
With the surge in the number of critical patients, over 80 percent of nationwide I.C.U. beds were found to be occupied.
 
As of 5 p.m. Monday, 80.7 percent of I.C.U. beds across the country were occupied, with 258 out of 1,337 beds available. The government sees occupancy surpassing 75 percent as a red flag.
 
The occupancy rate in the greater Seoul area — consisting of Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi, where most Covid-19 patients are located — stood at 87.7 percent. Forty-two beds were free in Seoul, 51 in Gyeonggi and 10 in Incheon.
 
Concerned with the latest surge in critical cases, President Moon Jae-in once again instructed national university hospitals to concentrate their medical capabilities on treating critically ill Covid-19 patients and asked for cooperation from private hospitals.
 
“We must devote all our efforts to stabilizing the virus situation early while heightened distancing measures are implemented,” Moon said in a Cabinet meeting Tuesday.
 
“Above all, the key to bracing ourselves again is to thoroughly reinforce the medical response system," Moon said, calling to secure sufficient hospital beds and medical personnel.
 
The president added that “many private medical institutions are coming together [to earmark more hospital beds],” emphasizing the urgent need for cooperation from private hospitals.
 
“We ask that all medical capabilities of the public and the private sector work together to protect the peoples' lives and safety in these difficult times,” he said.
 
On Tuesday, Korea reported an additional 5,202 daily new Covid-19 infections, bringing the total caseload to 575,615, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA). Cases were slightly down from the past few days, but this is partly due to fewer tests conducted over the weekends.
 
People infected with the new Omicron strain of the coronavirus jumped by 49 in a day, putting health authorities on alert. Of these, 33 were locally transmitted, and 16 were imported from overseas.
 
Twenty of the domestic cases were tied to a mass Omicron infection from a kindergarten in Iksan, North Jeolla, the KDCA said. One teacher was found to have visited another kindergarten in the neighboring Buan County, adding to worries of a further spread.
 
The United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Omicron is now the dominant strain in the United States, accounting for over 73 percent of new coronavirus cases over the past week ending Saturday.
 
Korea has now reported a total of 227 Omicron cases since the country detected its first case on Dec. 1. The Omicron variant is three times more contagious than the yet-dominant Delta variant.
 
“There is a possibility that Omicron could become the dominant strain in one to two months,” Lee Sang-won, head of the epidemiological investigations team at the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasure Headquarters, recently said in a briefing.

BY SHIN SUNG-SIK, SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun1@joongang.co.kr]
Log in to Twitter or Facebook account to connect
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
help-image Social comment?
s
lock icon

To write comments, please log in to one of the accounts.

Standards Board Policy (0/250자)

What’s Popular Now