Korea University Medicine (KUM) on Tuesday sent a medical team Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province to help stem the new coronavirus spread by operating healthcare centers in the two epicenters.
The dispatch, the first by a major hospital in Seoul, reflects KUM's determination to contribute to preventing a national disaster upon the request from the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) and local communities, the university said. The healthcare center will mainly treat patients with no or mild symptoms and supply medical resources to the two clusters in the nation’s southeastern region.
KUM sent the team, led by Professor Sohn Jang-wook of the Infectious Disease Department at Korea University Anam Hospital, nursing team manager Lee Hee-seon, to North Gyeongsang Province on its traveling clinic bus, early Tuesday morning.
The medical team will stay for about a week to open and run a makeshift health center in Gyeongju and will judge whether to ask for more workforce or medical equipment such as X-rays.
"COVID-19 spread is a foremost national issue, and we will make sure to open the healthcare center and help to make confirmed patients in Daegu and North Gyeongsang return to their daily lives," Professor Sohn said.
Yonsei University Severance Hospital also sent a medical team to Daegu on Wednesday.
The Severance Hospital team comprised a cardiology professor and 12 nurses working at the intensive care unit, hemodialysis unit, as well as the departments of hematology, transplantation surgery, psychiatry, gastroenterology, neurology, surgical ward, and adult rehabilitation medicine.
|Yonsei University Health System Director Yoon Do-heum (facing camera) chairs a meeting before dispatching a medical support team to Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province on Tuesday.|
Severance Hospital plans to divide the team into two groups. The first group composed of the cardiology professor with five nurses went to Daegu. They will treat patients at Keimyung University Dongsan Medical Center for two weeks. The second group will do the same for two weeks from March 18 at the same place.
"We acted upon global disasters by sending medical teams abroad to treat local patients after the 2010 Haiti earthquake and the 2014 West African Ebola virus epidemic. At home, we did the same in 2009 flu pandemic and 2015 MERS outbreak," said Yoon Do-heum, director of Yonsei University Health System, during a meeting before their departure.
In a related development, the Seoul National University Hospital will cut short about 30 percent of its existing medical services to operate a 50-bed emergency response ward to take care of severe and rare disease patients from Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province.
Hospitals in the two clusters of virus infection have reached saturation point as patients there account for nearly 90 percent of the national total of about 5,300.
As a result, patients with rare, incurable diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular ailments, find it difficult to receive proper and timely treatments, and SNUH is aiming to fill such a gap, the hospital said.
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