Thu, Nov 13, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Anti-SARS drill launched at two hospitals in Taipei

WEAK LINK Officials expressed satisfaction at the outcome of the measure, but concerns were raised over insurance loopholes affecting hospital workers

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

An emergency drill simulating the handling of SARS patients and the activation of an infection bulletin network connecting different health agencies was held in Taipei yesterday.

The Department of Health, the Taipei City government health bureau, Jenai Hospital (仁愛醫院) and Hoping Hospital (和平醫院) played the major roles in the drill, under the direction of the northern headquarters of the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

To prevent a repeat of the mistakes that occurred during the SARS outbreak earlier this year, the CDC and the Taipei City health bureau have developed SARS prevention and control measures over the last six months, said the drill's supervisor, city health bureau director Chang Hang (張珩).

"We now have sure-fire mechanisms for prevention and control of SARS. All medical personnel are well-trained to confront SARS," Chang said.

He added that the united anti-SARS procedures have been formulated among countries affected by the disease, including Hong Kong, Canada, Vietnam and Singapore.

However, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) City Councilor Lin I-hua (林奕華) said at a news conference yesterday that the SARS prevention measures Chang was praising actually suffered from a loophole with respect to health insurance.

Lin was referring to the lack of insurance coverage for informal hospital carers and laundry workers, who make up the majority of hospital workers, and who are also the groups with the highest risk of contracting the illness.

"Many of them either have no health insurance or insure with the wrong company, which prevents them from making a reasonable claim," Lin said.

Lin added that a laundry worker, also surnamed Lin, who died of SARS earlier this year only received NT$100,000 for a claim.

He compared this case with that of a nurse who died during the SARS outbreak. The nurse received NT$10 million because she was a public employee.

"The city government should take care of these workers' rights and amend this loophole as soon as possible," said Lin.

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