More than 70 doctors and nurses from across the country attended a training seminar at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday to prepare themselves to treat severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) patients.
As of yesterday, two health workers were confirmed to have died of SARS.
But their deaths did not diminish the determination of the doctors and nurses to take care of SARS patients, said a head nurse from Pingtung, surnamed Chuang.
"Our mood was somewhat affected by their deaths. However, one doctor and seven nurses from our hospital volunteered to join this seminar. No one compelled us to come here," she said.
Chuang said that although she had learned something about how to take care of SARS patients in her hospital, she needed further training about how to handle the infectious disease. "My family all supported my decision," she said.
Chou Chaw-fang (周照芳), deputy executive officer of Taiwan Joint Commission on Hospital Accreditation (TJCHA), the semi-governmental organization hosting the event, said hospitals are in urgent need of health workers capable of tending to SARS patients.
"As a result, the Bureau of National Health Insurance hurriedly recruited doctors and nurses from across the island to join the seminar. Although some were sent here by their hospitals, their hospitals did so only after obtaining their agreement," Chou said.
According to Chou, TJCHA held several seminars last week to train those who treat SARS patients. About 20 health workers attended each seminar.
"Almost all of the health workers in previous seminars had been dispatched to the Taipei Armed Forces Sungshan Hospital," Chou said.
The hospital was appointed by the Department of Health (DOH) to receive SARS patients.
Most of the doctors and nurses at yesterday's seminar will be sent to Taipei County Sanchung Hospital, the second hospital selected by the health department to treat SARS patients, Chou said.
"The DOH is already considering appointing a third hospital to treat SARS," Chou said.
Two nurses, surnamed Chung and Kuo, who came from the same hospital as Chuang, said that they were not afraid of being infected with SARS.
"Our country needs us. That's why I came," said Chung, who had already received some infectious disease training.
Kuo, who has been working as a nurse for more than 10 years, said that she trusted the government.
"Our government knows how to teach us about taking care of SARS patients; otherwise it would not recruit us to join this seminar," Kuo said.
Chung and Kuo will return to their hospital in Pingtung to tend to SARS patients after the seminar.
In the opening session of the seminar, Premier Yu Shyi-kun encouraged the health workers and thanked them for their sacrifices.
"The government will do its best to ensure you will not be short of medical resources such as surgical masks," Yu said, adding that the health-care workers had all displayed "the glory of Florence Nightingale."
Infectious-disease specialists from the National Taiwan University Hospital conducted the seminar.