Thu, May 22, 2003 - Page 2 News List

PFP vice chairman calls for virus isolation

URGENCY The cardiologist-turned-politician demands that facilities nationwide be devoted to the treatment and isolation of SARS-virus carriers as soon as possible

By Sandy Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

PFP Vice Chairman Chang Chao-hsiung makes a gesture as he calls for Taipei City Mayor Ma Ying-jeou to make Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital a SARS-only facility during a news conference yesterday.

PHOTO: CNA

PFP Vice Chairman Chang Chao-hsiung (張昭雄) yesterday urged Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) designate Taipei Municipal Hoping Hospital as a SARS-only treatment facility.

The politician, who is a former hospital president, stressed that treatment for SARS-patients must be concentrate in one area, Chang said that with adequate management, risks of managing a SARS-only treatment hospital would definitely be less than if suspected and probable cases of the disease were treated at ordinary hospitals.

Chang said that although he had already presented his suggestion to Ma on the phone, in light of time urgency in the face of SARS threat, he nonetheless would like to make a public call to Ma.

"In a bid to prevent creating opportunities for outbreaks to occur over our fight against the SARS virus, I hereby urge Taipei Mayor Ma to make up his mind soon as to whether Hoping Hospital is to become a SARS-only treatment hospital," Chang said at a press conference held by the party's SARS prevention and control task force. Chang is the convener of the task force.

The Hoping Hospital, site of the nation's first most serious cluster of SARS infections, was sealed off on April 24 after medical workers allegedly misdiagnosed SARS patients and then covered it up to avoid scaring away other patients.

Patients who had earlier visited Hoping Hospital sought treatments elsewhere without disclosing it to medical doctors tending to them, leading to outbreaks at other hospitals.

The hospital was originally slated to be converted into a SARS-only treatment institute after the whole building had been disinfected last week. However, Ma, was informed that the hospital lacked negative-pressure ventilation and was under increasing pressure from residents living in the neighborhood of Wanhua District where the hospital is located and therefore opted to allow Hoping Hospital to operate as before.

Saying that renovation of the ventilation system is not an issue, Chang called upon Premier Yu Shyi-kun and Ma to be aware that the fight against the SARS virus is a race against time, and therefore the sooner the Hoping Hospital could be turned into SARS-only treatment hospital the sooner it can help diminish the issue of scarce negative pressure ventilation room.

Adding that moving patients to other hospitals could allow the SARS virus to spread further, Chang urged the central government to speed up its effort to concentrate SARS patients in a few designated facilities nationwide.

"In order to reduce the sources of SARS, we must strengthen quarantine measures" so that actual SARS patients may be quickly identified from among the probable and suspected cases, said Chang, a former cardiologist and a former president of the Chang Gung Memorial Hospital.

In respond to Chang's call, Ma said that the decision as to whether or not to convert the hospital into a SARS-only treatment institute depends not on personal considerations, but on professional considerations.

Ma said the Taipei City Government would fully respect the professional considerations.

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