Healing the Injured1)
On January 13, MBC released audio file of the use of abusive language by Ryu Heesug, director of the Medical Center at Ajou University Hospital, toward Lee Gukjong, head of the major trauma center. Within one week, Lee announced he would step down from his position. He also said that he would no longer be involved in the operations of the trauma center. Lee was greatly spotlighted when he saved Seok Haegyun, ‘Hero of the Gulf of Aden’ in 2011. He is also credited with saving Oh Chungseong, a soldier who escaped from North Korea that was shot several times, in 2017. However, conflicts between Lee and the hospital have surfaced recently after news of his verbal abuse of Ryu. Ajou University Hospital has stated that there have been numerous complaints from many people about the noise due to use of the Doctor helicopters. Lee countered the claims by calling them lies. Lee said, "Ajou University Hospital is one of the highest money earning hospitals in the country," adding that the Hospital used his name to earn profits while they do not care about patients. On February 5, a Gyeonggi province official said, “The investigation is aimed at protecting the lives of citizens, so we will thoroughly investigate whether recent allegations surrounding the hospital are true and issue any penalties if they are found to violate the law." As a result of the conflict between the doctor and the hospital, the public has focused its attention on the medical community.
The situation at Ajou University Hospital, however, exists at other hospitals. Moreover, this is not the first time that this type of problem in the medical community has been raised. In November 2017, a petition insisting that “All private acute trauma centers should become nationally controlled centers.” was posted on the Cheong Wa Dae national petition board. People who agreed with the petition claimed that acute trauma centers earn less profits than general hospitals, so the government must take control of their operations and provide sufficient support. Noting the recent conflict mentioned above, citizens have begun to voice concern for government intervention again. Another petition was recently posted on the petition board strongly asserts that the government must take responsibility for operations of trauma centers despite their low-profit margin. Lack of support is not the only issue. Use of the support properly is also important. In addition to ample financial support, a thorough investigation into whether the assistance is being used properly is also needed. Korea's medical community is currently facing a new direction, but one thing is for sure, citizens want hospitals to remain hospitals, and not to become profit seeking enterprises.
1) Lee Bobae, “Lee Gukjong, Public Disclosure... Gyeonggido “We Will Disclose Everything” Ajou University Hospital Is Under Investigation”, Hankyung, February 5, 2020