Wed, Jun 19, 2013 - Page 5 News List

District officers find value in service

LIFE AND DEATH:Household registration officers help people not only with marriage, birth or divorce registrations, but also check to see whether residents are still alive

By Weng Yu-huang and Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

To complete many tasks such as getting a new ID or registering a marriage, people have to visit the local household registration office. However, very few people know that if they are physically impaired, officers can visit them at their homes to help them with the paperwork.

Chiu Shih-jung (邱士榮), a section head at the household registration office in Daan District (大安), Taipei, said that as a rule, people have to come to the office to file paperwork in person to protect their rights when doing things such as registering a marriage, birth or divorce, verifying personal seals or obtaining a national identification card.

However, for people with mobility problems, officers can visit them at home and it would be the same as “filing the registration in person,” Chiu said, adding that few people seem to be aware of the home visitation service.

Chiu said someone once asked him: “My father is seriously ill and in hospital. How can he get his personal seal verified and registered? Do we have to get an ambulance to carry him to your office?

Chiu said he told the person that he only needed to explain his father’s condition and make an appointment with a registration officer at a fixed time and location. The officer would then go in person, either to the hospital or to the applicant’s home, to help with the paperwork.

Asked about his most memorable experience, Chiu said it was during the SARS epidemic a decade ago.

Chiu was asked to go to the National Taiwan University Hospital to handle a case. It was only when he arrived at the hospital that he realized that the person he had to see was a SARS patient in a negative pressure isolation ward.

Chiu said he did not know at the time how serious SARS was, but he felt duty-bound to complete his task, so he put on a protective suit and went into the isolation ward to verify the patient’s decisions and complete the paperwork. It was only later that Chiu realized he may have had a close brush with death.

“Although going to people’s homes is not easy, it can be worthwhile and we feel good providing this service,” Chiu said.

He recalled visiting the home of a writer who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease — a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord and which can lead to paralysis — and helping him with some paperwork.

After completing the task, the writer, using his eyes and with the assistance of his wife, wrote Chiu a message thanking him for his help.

The message read: “Thank your for your diligent work in helping me. I want to give you a book as a gift.”

Chiu still has the book and whenever he looks at it, he remembers the value and meaning of bringing his work to people’s homes.

Yang Fu-bao (楊富堡) has a more unusual occupation — as the section officer in charge of death registration and certification at the household registration office in Zhongshan District (中山), Taipei.

Not only is Yang responsible for monitoring statistics on the elderly population in the district, he also has to verify death reports or obtain updates on people’s living status.

Aside from office work, Yang often has to conduct on-site investigations, which can include climbing mountains or trekking through wilderness or coastal areas to visit remote gravesites or columbaria to verify if an individual is deceased or alive.

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