I will leave no stone unturned in my search for ways to address the impact of MERS on our daily lives.
I have seen the stark reality of the havoc that MERS has wreaked on the daily lives of Seoul citizens, and this is where we will begin our journey toward recovery. There are many questions surrounding this issue, and many potential answers as well.
The words of the director of Mediheal Hospital, who recently reopened the hospital after having closed it to stop the spread of MERS throughout our communities, force us to think about what the public must do in this crisis.
“Patients who had been hospitalized after cohort isolation was introduced couldn’t be released from the hospital and couldn’t be with their families. Would it have been right to charge them hospital fees? I couldn’t ask them to sacrifice any more than they already had, so our hospital covered all medical costs during the isolation period. But now, the government is saying that they cannot provide financial support for the suspected MERS patients who were found to be free of the virus.”
At a time when even private hospital directors seem more concerned about public welfare than the government, maybe we have lost sight of what is truly important behind all of our documents and numbers.
I have heard the desperate stories of shop owners in the Gangdong Benecity shopping district, which is struggling with a major lack of customers. The reason is its proximity to the 365 Yeollin Hospital, one of the hospitals affected by MERS. The hospital director himself was a MERS patient.
“We are victims of the MERS crisis too. It has taken away all of our customers. It is so bad that we are worried we will not be able to afford to eat tomorrow. We all need our landlords to lower the rent, or some other form of support. We could apply for the government subsidy, but by the time we actually received it, it would be too late. To people like us, policies are intangible.”
Recognizing this hardship, we will look into the possibility of lowering the rent for city-owned buildings to see if we can share your burden.
Furthermore, we were ashamed to hear about the great difficulties of a nurse at the Kyung Hee University Hospital at Gangdong, which was lauded by residents for its quick decision to temporarily close to the public in response to the MERS outbreak.
“I was working as a nurse with conviction and confidence, but the schools my children attend needed proof that I wasn’t living with them. So, I rented a tiny room in a short-term accommodation building, and now I’m living there alone. Even though I’ve committed no crime, I feel like I’m in a prison. And I feel sorry for my children.”
My heart goes out to this nurse, who decided to live apart from her family in order to serve the people.
The city government believes that people in such situations, like this nurse, need to be provided suitable accommodations.
Those who serve their country and their people should never be made to suffer in this way. We need to encourage them, applaud them, and take measures to support them. If we do, then more people will step up to help fight the threat we all now face.
Although the MERS outbreak is gradually subsiding, we must remain vigilant. We need to make sure it is completely eradicated, and restore people’s livelihoods.
From one of the greatest difficulties we have ever faced, a “New Seoul” is emerging. And we will not forget the trust that all our citizens have put in us.
Tomorrow, I will be holding a Q&A session at the scene of the crisis.
#MERS #ParkWonSoon #MedihealHospital #LeeHae-sik KyungHeeUniversityHospitalatGangdong