Fri, Apr 17, 2009 - Page 2 News List

St Mary’s Hospital in Taitung may be forced to shut down

By Wang Hsiu-ting  /  STAFF REPORTER , TAITUNG

St Mary’s Hospital in Taitung, which has served the economically disadvantaged in the area for nearly 50 years, may be forced to close down if it fails to raise NT$30 million (US$890,000) by November.

Although the hospital has received several government honors in its five decades of operation, it has always struggled financially.

Chen Shih-hsien (陳世賢), the hospital’s chief secretary, said the hospital was founded by a Catholic Mission as an obstetrics clinic and gradually evolved into a general hospital.

Chen said that while there were times when the hospital had not had enough money even to pay its employees, it had received six individual medical contribution awards, one group medical contribution award, and several other honors.

The hospital’s financial straits have worsened since last year.

The number of patients at the hospital fell by 50 percent when orthopedics doctor Shih Shao-wei (施少偉) passed away last year.

In addition, the local government has asked the hospital to change its legal status before Nov. 23, requiring them to pay taxes and other expenses totaling around NT$30 million.

Well-known doctors have left Taipei to join the hospital’s staff.

Yu Yung-sheng (喻永生), considered one of the nation’s top physicians, quit his job in Taipei to take over as director at St Mary’s because he sees “the true spirit of the medical world” there, he said.

To save the hospital from closing down, Chen has launched a fundraising project to find 3,000 people willing to donate NT$10,000 each. Chen said he would also write to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) asking for his support.

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