Tue, May 13, 2003 - Page 2 News List

SARS takes toll on Nurses Day

MUTED CELEBRATION The deaths of three nurses and anger at the former head of Hoping Hospital had health professionals feeling far from upbeat

By Sandy Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

A man views orchids sent by a member of the public to heath-care workers at the Cathay General Hospital in Taipei yesterday, which was International Nurses Day.

PHOTO: SHIH CHI-HUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

With three nurses having succumbed to SARS in the past two weeks, nurses and medical personnel were in no mood to celebrate International Nurses Day, which falls on May 12 -- the birthday of Florence Nightingale.

On Mother's Day, Lin Chia-ling (林佳鈴), a nurse employed at Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital, passed away at Taipei Veterans General Hospital after being infected by patients with the contagious pneumonia-like disease.

"The superintendent of Hoping Hospital should shoulder responsibility for this tragic fiasco," Lin's father said.

"I think the fact that he has been dismissed from the post has somewhat justified the responsibility he should shoulder," he said while showing signs of grief over the death of his 29-year-old daughter.

Lin' s father called on the government to attach great importance to the safety of health-care personnel on the SARS front line.

The Taipei City Government announced yesterday that Hoping Hospital superintendent Wu Kan-wen (吳康文) had been removed from his post.

Lin had been confined to Hoping Hospital when it was sealed off last month. When staff were changed at the hospital, Lin was sent to the Alternative Service Training Center on April 26 for quarantine.

However, she developed a fever the same day and was sent back to the hospital before being transferred to the Armed Forces Sung Shan Hospital the next day. Lin was then transferred to the Veterans Hospital on May 3 as her health was deteriorating.

The Taipei City Government said that Lin's next of kin will receive NT$10.86 million in compensation and that Lin will be enshrined at Yuangshan Martyrs Shrine in recognition of her dedication in the fight against the epidemic.

Along with Lin, 27-year-old Hu Kuei-fang (胡貴芳) and 48-year-old Chen Ching-chiu (陳靜秋) will be will be recognized at the shrine.

Hu, a nurse from Taipei's Jen Chi Hospital, which was sealed off last month, died of SARS late Wednesday night.

Hu was 35-weeks pregnant when she passed away. She died with her unborn baby in Mackay Memorial Hospital in Tamsui.

The Mackay Hospital was set to perform a Caesarean section in an attempt to save the unborn baby, but the operation was not carried out as Hu's family opposed it.

Chen, head nurse at Hoping, died on May 1 and was the first medical worker to die of SARS after she became infected with the disease while attending to SARS patients.

Former Hoping head nurse Kuo Ching-ying (郭金英) blamed the hospital for having attempted to conceal the SARS situation, a move which led to the three nurses losing their lives after unknowingly attending to SARS patients.

"This year's Nurses Day is the most sorrowful one of all in the health-care community," Kuo was quoted as saying.

As of press time last night, Cheng Hsueh-hui (鄭雪慧), deputy supervisor of the nursing department at Hoping, was on the brink of death. Doctors said, barring a miracle, she is unlikely to make it.

"I appreciate you all for helping her to survive one more Mother's Day and Nurses Day," Cheng's husband was reported as telling medical personnel tending to his wife at Cathay General Hospital.

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