Sat, May 10, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Ma asks health chief to stay

By Debby Wu and Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday that Taipei City Bureau of Health Director Chiu Shu-ti (邱淑媞) had offered her resignation on Thursday but that he had managed to change her mind.

Ma disclosed the resignation offer at a press conference yesterday where a reporter asked Chiu whether she should have resigned after Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital had to be sealed off to contain an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

"Director Chiu mentioned her intention to resign yesterday. I asked her not to quit immediately," Ma said.

"Taipei City needs her to lead the municipal hospitals to keep on fighting. I will not consider her resignation at the moment.

"The end of the battle in Hoping [Hospital] does not represent the end of the battle in the communities, so I asked Chiu to stay with us," he said.

The mayor also said that it was not an appropriate time to try to apportion blame for the hospital's problems. Further investigations were needed, he said.

"The crisis in Hoping needs to be first investigated from an epidemiological point of view to see whether the measures taken were appropriate, and whether any personnel were at fault," he said.

"Professor Yeh Chin-chuan (葉金川) [former director of Bureau of Health] is writing up a report. Later we will have experts from outside the Taipei City Government to assess the whole situation," he said.

Chiu, meanwhile, said she would not shirk her responsibilities.

"I want to resign because Hoping has now completed its quarantine period," she said. "I work hard, but as an official, I will hold myself responsible for the Hoping case."

She also hinted at some of the difficulties she had faced during the past two weeks.

"I have spent all my energies on this battle, but I am sorry that I cannot say whether everyone else is doing the same," she said.

Hsu Chia-ching (徐佳青), a DPP Taipei City councilor, said Chiu's decision to seal off Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital was correct. But Hsu said Chiu should not try to sidestep her responsibility for the hospital by offering to resign.

"She failed to provide supportive measures when the hospital was sealed. Some of the nurses inside did not even have surgical masks. The isolation measures were not properly implemented either," Hsu said.

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