Thursday, August 27, 2009

"You should go to the hospital" -- Korean cultural norm of going to hospital for many things may backfire on it for H1N1

Health center chief quashes rumors of additional deaths

"GEOJE, South Gyeongsang - Several hospitals in the southern coastal city of Geoje have been packed with anxious residents and overwhelmed with phone callers worried about the new flu following the death of a 56-year old from the A(H1N1) virus two weeks ago."

In Korea I've often been told I 'should go to the hospital' (see here for a post about this cultural difference) for things I'd never go to the hospital for back home in Canada . . . and I think that this cultural habit may put too much stress on the medical system in Korea.

"Over 250 outpatients visited the Geoje hospital to get tested for the new influenza on Tuesday this week alone, 40 percent more than a usual day, according to the hospital.

The busiest day was Monday this week when 300 outpatients visited. Sixteen middle schools in Geoje delayed the start of the semester on Monday, according to the Geoje Health Center."

What's going to happen to the hospitals and medical staff in Korea as more and more Koreans become infected with H1N1? What will happen when two floods of Koreans, those who actually have H1N1, and those that don't but think they might, all flow into hospitals non-stop for days and days and days . . . can the hospitals cope with this 'mass casualties' scenario?

"Forty percent of the 250 outpatients had fever or respiratory problems, according to a hospital official surnamed Eom. “But the rest do not have symptoms of the new flu. A lot of worried people are rushing to get tested regardless of their condition because they are worried about the alarming spread of the virus.” (my italics, my bold)

This might be a good time for the president to do a national address to the public, and for him to have medical experts begin a massive TV information campaign to educate the public with the facts they need to know so they can do what they need to do.

Otherwise it seems to be things are just going to keep escalating until the medical infrastructure of Korea cracks under the strain: "Eom said the dramatic increase in the number of outpatients is bringing the hospital to its knees, leaving staff exhausted and patients left waiting to see a doctor for hours." And this is just the beginning . . . what's going to happen in a few weeks?

The article goes on to say, "But it’s not just private hospitals that are being overrun. An official at the Geoje Public Health Center said its staff has been fielding 1,000 calls per day since news broke that two people had died from the new flu earlier this month, paralyzing the center’s workers. Most callers were asking about the flu test and flu symptoms."

I'm going to stop researching this on Google cause it's just depressing . . .

I really hope that everything is not as bad as I think it is, and that this all blows over quickly.



Brian said...

Do you think an address by the president would do anything? Koreans hate Lee Myung-bak, and I suspect a good many won't trust anything he says. Like last year with Mad Cow, many---especially in Jeollanam-do---dismissed anything he or the newspapers said as a lie, including scientific evidence.

I also like the point you made on Facebook about sterilizing the classrooms . . . it's the students who do the cleaning, and if our safety is in their filthy hands, Xenu help us. I've never seen a bar of soap in the bathroom, never seen any cleaning solutions used during cleaning time. Moreover, hand sanitizer does little good if you're sneezing and coughing on everyone.

Jason said...

Hi Brian,

Donno about the president thing, just know that something needs to be done on a national level and ASAP.

And yeah, as for students cleaning the schools . . . splashing water around does not a clean bathroom make.

The whole thing is like a house of cards that two people are holding umbrellas over to 'protect it' from the imminent arrival of a hurricane . . .

I think the this is gonna be one for the history books . . .