Tue, May 13, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Taipei sacks top gun at city hospital

PUNISHMENT Amid a swirl of allegations, the head of a hospital was fired, although Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou was reluctant to say why

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Under increasing public pressure to find out who was responsible for an outbreak of SARS at Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital, the Taipei City Government yesterday said it had fired the hospital's superintendent, Wu Kang-wen (吳康文).

"We will continue to investigate what mistakes Wu and the medical staff of the hospital might have made," Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday during his administration's daily press conference on SARS.

"There will be another wave of punishment," he said

During yesterday's press conference, the media repeatedly asked whether Wu's removal meant that the hospital had lied to the public, but Ma refused to be drawn on the question.

"Wu has been hardworking and stressed. He is completely exhausted. At the same time, Hoping has a different mission for the next stage, and it needs different expertise and experts. The rearrangement is mission-oriented," he said.

Taipei Bureau of Health Director Chiu Shu-ti (邱淑女是) said Taipei Municipal Chung Hsing Hospital Superintendent Weng Lin-chung (翁林仲) was taking over Wu's position.

She also refused to specify what Wu had done to warrant his sacking.

"We are rearranging the administration within Hoping to prepare the hospital to become a SARS center," Chiu said.

"Further inquiry is needed to see whether the outbreak of SARS was caused by ignorance of the epidemic or because of an intentional cover-up by the administration," she added.

Wu has come under fire for his handling of the crisis at the hospital, which was sealed off for two weeks after a number of SARS cases were discovered there.

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday suggested that the disease had spread unnecessarily as a result of Hoping hiding its SARS cases.

"SARS is not an incurable disease and can be prevented, but when the medical personnel don't tell the truth then SARS can kill," Chen said.

Meanwhile, Ma said that the government's investigation would not only find out who should be punished but also those who should be rewarded.

In an apparent demonstration of Ma's keenness to reward as well as punish, the head of the hospital's internal medicine department, Huang Lien-chi (黃蓮奇), was promoted to a deputy superintendent for his performance during the past two weeks.

The Taipei City Government yesterday continued to criticize the media's reporting of the SARS outbreak.

Chiu said a chronicle of the SARS outbreak in Hoping Hospital published by a major newspaper was "full of mistakes."

Director of Taipei City's Bureau of Information Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) supported Chiu by saying, "The report was written by reporters who do not usually covering Taipei City. They do not really understand what has been going on."

When Chiu was asked to identify the inaccuracies in the report, however, Chiu said that she did not have the article with her and could not remember the specific mistakes.

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