Thu, May 15, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Prosecutors to question head of Hoping Hospital

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Two cleaners on a firefighter's tower yesterday sterilize the outside of Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital.

PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

The Taipei District Prosecutors' Office yesterday said it would soon question the sacked superintendent of Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital, Wu Kang-wen (吳康文), and the hospital's Infectious Diseases Department head Lin Jung-ti (林榮第) about their handling of an outbreak of SARS at the hospital.

Chen Hung-ta (陳宏達), the spokesman for the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office, said the interrogations would be conducted via videoconferencing "to protect our prosecutors from the possibility of being infected by SARS, since both Wu and Lin are still in their quarantine period."

Chen said that an investigation into the events at Hoping Hospital began last week and that Wu and Lin would be questioned soon, although he did not say when.

A team led by Chief Prosecutor Chen Ta-wei (陳大偉) has begun interviewing Taipei City Government officials and patients, doctors and nurses from Hoping Hospital to decide whether Wu is legally liable for his actions to deal with the outbreak at his hospital last month.

Prosecutors said a number of interviews had been conducted but Chen would confirm only those with Shin Kong Wu Ho-Su Memorial Hospital Vice President Huang Fang-yen (黃芳彥) and Center for Disease Control Director-General Chen Tzay-jinn (陳再晉).

Chen said that information gathered so far had weakened Wu's position, without elaborating.

Wu was sacked by the Taipei City Government's Bureau of Health on Monday.

However, the bureau would not confirm that it was sacking Wu because of his handling of the SARS outbreak.

"Wu has been working too hard and we hope he can take a good rest," Chiu Shu-ti (邱淑媞), the bureau's director, said on Monday.

Taipei Municipal Chung Hsing Hospital Superintendent Weng Lin-chung (翁林仲) took over Wu's position. Weng will also keep his job at Chung Hsing Hospital.

Yesterday at Hoping Hospital, 1,210 soldiers from the 6th Army Corp, riding on 50 T-486 light-chemical vehicles and 10 chemical pumpers, began disinfecting the hospital.

Three soldiers wearing chemical protection suits were overcome by the heat and had to leave the hospital, officials said, adding that they all recovered quickly.

According to William Chen (陳威仁), director of the city government's Bureau of Public Works, Hoping Hospital will be ready by the end of June to treat SARS cases only.

He said that the renovation work will focus on the hospital's ventilation system and quarantine and disinfection facilities to make it suitable for SARS patients.

"The city government has prepared a budget of NT$140 million for the renovation project at the hospital," Chen said. "On Mayor Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) orders, workers will work around the clock to finish the project as soon as possible."

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