Sun, Nov 28, 2004 - Page 2 News List

`Mafia hospital' faces bankruptcy

SICKENING The Ching Sheng Hospital, famous for treating criminals, faces closure because the bank it is in debt to wants to use the building to open another branch

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The 22-year-old Ching Sheng Hospital in Taipei City, which has been nicknamed the "mafia's private medical facility," will have to relocate or close its doors forever if its new owner -- Macoto Bank -- does not want to continue to lease building to the hospital.

The "mafia's private medical facility" has to make a change because Tsai Yung-mei (蔡詠梅), the hospital's founder, owes a total of NT$80 million to the bank.

According to the Taipei District Court's Civil Department, Tsai used the six-floor hospital building as collateral to for a NT$40 million loan six years ago.

The bank decided to go through the legal process to seize the hospital building in June this year because Tsai failed make payments on her NT$80 million debt, including the NT$40 million loan and another NT$40 million in interest.

In the meantime, the bank also filed a request with the civil court to claim the hospital building, which also means that the bank has asked the court to help it move or close the hospital. According to the bank, it is planning to establish a new branch of its business in the building.

On Nov. 22, Taipei District Court Civil Judge Lin Ling-yu (林玲玉) gave a 60-day deadline to the hospital to solve its financial woes with the bank or the court would force the hospital to close its doors.

Wang Jo-fan (王若蕃), current president of Ching Sheng, said that the hospital will continue to negotiate with the bank and see if they can prolong their lease.

"I would bow to anybody for survival if necessary," he said.

Tsai decided to establish Ching Sheng in the Zhongshan district of Taipei City in 1982 because she believed that a hospital in the district would help her make a fortune, since there were many shooting incidents and conflicts between mafia members in the district.

Tsai invited surgeons to join the hospital's medical team and soon the hospital had built its reputation for surgery, especially for those who were injured in a fight or a shootout.

In the meantime, its expertise in surgery also attracted more than its fair share of mafia members who need emergency medical treatment.

Unlike other hospitals, Ching Sheng's doctors and nurses are on standby 24 hours a day, while other hospitals only leave their emergency rooms on duty at night. Their "first-come, first-serve" policy also makes their patients feel that they will always be helped at Ching Sheng whenever necessary, thus earning the hospital the nickname, the "mafia's private medical facility."

In addition to mafia members, police officers involved in some form of violence are major visitors to Ching Sheng.

Sergeant Liu Wang-teh (劉旺德) of the Taipei City Police Department's SWAT team said that Ching Sheng is a controversial hospital, but he would give two thumbs up for its surgeons as well as care for their patients.

"They have experience ... they have skills and they are willing to help no matter who you are," Liu said. "The hospital's personnel protect a patient's privacy rights as well, which is pretty important."

According to Chen Liang-shan (陳良善), a chief surgeon at Ching Sheng, many of their patients would write down "hoodlum" as their profession when filling out paperwork, and "Taipei Prison" as their address. But the hospital holds a policy of not forcing a patient to do anything that is not related to their injuries.

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