Tensions worsen over Jeju for-profit hospital

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Tensions worsen over Jeju for-profit hospital

By Kim Hyun-bin

The approval of the nation's first for-profit hospital on Jeju Island is facing a backlash from all sides.

On Wednesday, the Jeju Special Self-Governing Province administration approved the Greenland International Medical Center as a for-profit hospital on condition that it services only foreign patients.

However, the Chinese-owned medical center plans to take legal action against the provincial government's ban on domestic patients. Meanwhile, the local medical community, civic groups and politicians strongly protested the for-profit hospital.

Soon after the announcement, the Greenland hospital submitted a letter, demanding that local patients be able to receive treatment at the center.

"The Greenland hospital appears to be preparing a lawsuit, believing the ban on the treatment of local patients goes against the condition of permission," a Jeju government official said.

However, the Jeju provincial government says it has no plans to lift the prohibition on treating domestic patients at the hospital.

Opposition to the hospital has raised concerns that the domestic patients ban could eventually be recinded because there are no laws stating medical services can be denied to Koreans.

The Jeju Civil Society Organizations Network strongly condemned the approval and called on the governor to step down.

"Jeju Governor Won Hee-ryong, needs to take responsibility and must voluntarily step down for destroying deliberative democracy," the civic group claimed.

"No Jeju residents can now trust the governor with his irresponsible politics."

Ruling Democratic Party of Korea members of the Jeju Special Self-Governing Provincial Council also lambasted the governor's decision.

"The decision was not for Jeju's future but a political stunt by the governor as a boost at his presidential run," their statement said. "How will he manage the social cost. He must take responsibility for his political actions."

Korean Medical Association Chairman Choi Dae-zip met Governor Won Thursday to discuss the association's official stance on the matter.

"I spoke with Gov. Won about the worries that the hospital could soon treat domestic patients or expand the treatment criteria," Choi told reporters.

Under the approved conditions, the Greenland hospital is limited to four departments ― plastic surgery, dermatology, internal and family medicine.

Under the law, the Korean government permits for-profit hospitals if the project obtains over 50 percent foreign investment or more than $ 5 million capital in Jeju Province and eight free economic zones.

In December 2015, the Ministry of Health and Welfare permitted China's Greenland Group to build the Greenland International Medical Center on the island province. Construction was completed last year and the hospital has applied for permission to open.


By Kim Hyun-bin

The approval of the nation's first for-profit hospital on Jeju Island is facing a backlash from all sides.

On Wednesday, the Jeju Special Self-Governing Province administration approved the Greenland International Medical Center as a for-profit hospital on condition that it services only foreign patients.

However, the Chinese-owned medical center plans to take legal action against the provincial government's ban on domestic patients. Meanwhile, the local medical community, civic groups and politicians strongly protested the for-profit hospital.

Soon after the announcement, the Greenland hospital submitted a letter, demanding that local patients be able to receive treatment at the center.

"The Greenland hospital appears to be preparing a lawsuit, believing the ban on the treatment of local patients goes against the condition of permission," a Jeju government official said.

However, the Jeju provincial government says it has no plans to lift the prohibition on treating domestic patients at the hospital.

Opposition to the hospital has raised concerns that the domestic patients ban could eventually be recinded because there are no laws stating medical services can be denied to Koreans.

The Jeju Civil Society Organizations Network strongly condemned the approval and called on the governor to step down.

"Jeju Governor Won Hee-ryong, needs to take responsibility and must voluntarily step down for destroying deliberative democracy," the civic group claimed.

"No Jeju residents can now trust the governor with his irresponsible politics."

Ruling Democratic Party of Korea members of the Jeju Special Self-Governing Provincial Council also lambasted the governor's decision.

"The decision was not for Jeju's future but a political stunt by the governor as a boost at his presidential run," their statement said. "How will he manage the social cost. He must take responsibility for his political actions."

Korean Medical Association Chairman Choi Dae-zip met Governor Won Thursday to discuss the association's official stance on the matter.

"I spoke with Gov. Won about the worries that the hospital could soon treat domestic patients or expand the treatment criteria," Choi told reporters.

Under the approved conditions, the Greenland hospital is limited to four departments ― plastic surgery, dermatology, internal and family medicine.

Under the law, the Korean government permits for-profit hospitals if the project obtains over 50 percent foreign investment or more than $ 5 million capital in Jeju Province and eight free economic zones.

In December 2015, the Ministry of Health and Welfare permitted China's Greenland Group to build the Greenland International Medical Center on the island province. Construction was completed last year and the hospital has applied for permission to open.


김현빈 hyunbin@koreatimes.co.kr


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