Corona beds were also borrowed from public hospitals, not private large hospitals.


On the morning of the 21st, when the number of severe cases of Corona 19 increased to 1,000 again, nurses at the Seoul Metropolitan Seobuk Hospital in Eunpyeong-gu, Seoul transfer patients to the nursing hospital by ambulance. yunhap news

Paradoxically, the government, which ignored the persistent demands of civil society groups and health care workers for the expansion of ‘public health care’ after the COVID-19 outbreak, stuck to ‘public health care’ in a crisis situation. Concerns are rising over the government’s announcement that the National Medical Center, Seoul Medical Center, Veterans Hospital, and Industrial Accident Hospital will be introduced to take care of only COVID-19 patients. This is because the responsibility for government policy failure is being passed on to public hospital medical staff, patients, and the socially vulnerable. Officials agree that even now, private medical institutions should be more active in treating COVID-19 patients and share the pain.

“I was due to undergo chemotherapy and tests at the National Medical Center in two days, but I am worried that I may not be able to receive treatment.” Person A, a human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and leukemia patient, was scheduled to be hospitalized at the National Medical Center on the 24th. On the 21st, three days before hospitalization, the National Medical Center suddenly vacated the hospital bed and saw the media report that only patients with COVID-19 were treated, and I was troubled. This is because the hospital was not informed of the change in the hospitalization schedule. “Private hospitals are not only reluctant to treat HIV-infected people, but they are too expensive to afford,” said A. “I just hope they don’t kick us out without us.” Patients were confused as the government announced on the 24th that it would vacate the beds of major public hospitals such as the National Medical Center, Seoul Medical Center, Veterans Hospital, and Industrial Accident Hospital and designate it as a dedicated hospital to take care of only COVID-19 patients. Many of the patients who used these public hospitals were the underprivileged in our society, such as HIV-infected people, homeless people, patients with aftereffects of defoliant agents, paramedics, and pneumoconiosis patients. As the National Medical Center, which the poor homeless relied on when they were sick, stopped hospitalization, there was only one public hospital left in downtown Seoul, ‘Eunpyeong Hospital’, where the homeless could receive emergency treatment. Ahn Hyeong-jin, a homeless activist, said, “If homeless people cannot use private medical institutions and only use public hospitals (homeless treatment facility designation system), and even public hospitals are designated as hospitals exclusively for COVID-19, who will take care of their health rights? “During the COVID-19 period, the health status of the medically vulnerable groups continues to deteriorate. “We need to open private medical institutions so that they can use them, or strengthen the public nature of private medical institutions so that they can see more COVID-19 patients,” he said. Currently, in Korea, public hospitals, which account for 10% of all beds, treat 80% of COVID-19 patients, and private hospitals, which occupy 90% of beds, see only 20% of COVID-19 patients (3% of private beds). Civil society groups argued that public health care should be expanded to respond to infectious diseases from the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak and protect the right to health of the vulnerable, but the government ignored this demand. The government did not expand public hospital beds and public medical personnel even after five COVID-19 outbreaks, but the damage caused by it was passed on to the socially disadvantaged. A medical staff at the National Medical Center said, “Patients kicked out of the National Medical Center are those who are not treated at other large hospitals and private hospitals. “The consequences of not opening beds are ultimately passed on to the socially vulnerable, COVID-19 patients, and all citizens,” he said. Medical civil society groups urged private medical institutions with many medical resources, such as tertiary general hospitals, to postpone non-urgent treatment and surgery and start treating COVID-19. “There are 22 tertiary general hospitals in Seoul and the metropolitan area, but only two Seoul National University Hospitals (Seoul and Bundang) announced the mobilization of beds,” said Woo Seok-gyun, co-representative of the Humanitarian Physicians Association. “Medical collapse without mobilizing large private hospitals “Since the situation cannot be overcome, treatment of mild or moderate patients who do not necessarily need treatment at a large hospital should be temporarily treated at another hospital or clinic, and large hospitals should be forced to treat patients with severe coronavirus,” he said. In a statement on the afternoon of the same day, the Headquarters for Making a Good Public Hospital released a statement, saying, “Ignoring the social demands for the expansion of public hospitals, making it a dedicated hospital for COVID-19 is nothing but a ‘close measure’ that squeezes public hospitals like a dry towel.” In order to respond to the crisis, more than 10% of the beds of large private hospitals must be set aside for COVID-19 treatment beds so that the ‘recovery of daily life’ can be resumed,” he said. Reporter Lee Jae-ho and Kwon Ji-dam [email protected]

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