Tue, May 20, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Hospitals see mass resignations

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Adding to the pressure at the nation's hospitals, health-care workers at two medical institutions resigned en masse yesterday and another hospital in southern Taiwan closed its doors.

With the Center for Disease Control not releasing figures for new SARS cases or SARS-related deaths yesterday, the cumulative total of probable SARS cases stood at 344 and the death toll at 40.

Taipei City has seen the highest number of probable SARS cases at 146, followed by Taipei County with 106 and Taoyuan County at 17.

The Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital yesterday dispatched four doctors, three nurse supervisors and two head nurses to the Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital after 124 staff members at the Kaohsiung branch resigned on Sunday.

The Linkou branch's deputy superintendent will also lead 20 doctors to assist the Kaohsiung hospital today.

According to a public-relations official at the Linkou hospital -- who would only give his surname, Chou -- the Kaohsiung branch has not requested help because it says it has enough nurses on staff.

"They still have over 1,400 staff nurses, although some 100 of them are under quarantine," Chou said.

But, a health-care worker at the hospital said that she quit for the safety of her family.

"My mom and dad kept pressuring me to quit because they didn't want me to put myself in danger. If I was infected with SARS, I'd be putting their lives in danger," she said.

She said some of her colleagues quit immediately after being picked to care for SARS patients.

The Kaohsiung Chang Gung ceased normal treatment services at its children's hospital on Sunday after a nurse there developed a high fever.

On Friday, the hospital was forced to shut down its emergency ward and normal treatment services as well as the emergency room of the children's hospital.

Twenty-one staff members at Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital also quit their jobs yesterday after 145 of the hospital's health-care workers and staff members completed their quarantine.

Also yesterday, the Fengshan Hospital in Kaohsiung County shut down its emergency ward, normal treatment services and evening out-patient services.

The emergency ward was closed down for sterilization after a 48-year-old woman died there yesterday morning. She was reported as a suspected SARS case.

Meanwhile, Lee Ming-liang (李明亮), vice convener of the Cabinet's SARS prevention committee, said yesterday the SARS outbreak is the most serious health-care crisis the nation has ever seen.

"The magnitude of the outbreak is even more grave than that of the enterovirus outbreak in 1998, which claimed the lives of 78 children," Lee said.

But he said the SARS outbreak could be brought under complete control in four to five weeks if there is no mass in-hospital transmission and the public follows prevention measures.

Lee made the remarks yesterday morning during a briefing with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

Lee admitted there are indeed flaws in hospital procedures, including insufficient vigilance and poor reporting.

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