Posted May. 29, 2009 07:11,
A 26-year-old Russian woman visited Korea in the middle of the month for breast cancer treatment. After getting surgery and chemotherapy at Cheongshim International Medical Center in Gapyeong, Gyeonggi Province, she looked for a place to stay for a week.
She failed to find suitable lodging facilities in Gapyeong, however. The hospital came to her rescue and introduced her to a private residence providing a bed and meals run by a Russian.
Nonetheless, she complained of the lack of comfortable lodging facilities near the hospital.
Accommodations near hospitals are a must for patients and their families. Patients have had a hard time looking for a place to stay because hospitals cannot run lodging facilities under medical law.
To alleviate this inconvenience, the government yesterday announced deregulation on hospital operations to allow them to run lodging facilities.
The number of medical corporations was 644 at the end of last year. Hospitals in metropolitan areas promoting medical tourism and mid-size hospitals in provincial areas are expected to benefit the most from this deregulation.
Unlike hospitals in Seoul, which have hotels and inns nearby, those in provincial areas have no such facilities.
Kang Heung-rim, director of external cooperation at the Cheongshim hospital, said, If the government gives us the green light, well build a hotel with 80 rooms.
Andong Hospital in Andong, North Gyeongsang Province, runs a temporary lodging facility inside the hospital. Since for-profit businesses by a hospital is banned, however, the hospital cannot charge patients for using the facility.
Fees of 50,000 to 70,000 won (40 to 56 U.S. dollars) are charged to those who stay at the facility to participate conferences in the hospital.
Kang Bo-yeong, the chairman of Andong Hospitals board of directors, said, If for-profit businesses are allowed, we will provide better services by upgrading the facility.
Plastic and dermatology clinic franchises have no interest in deregulation, however. Mostly located in large cities, they have no difficulty securing lodging facilities and many of their patients get treatment with no hospitalization required.
Experts say the government should prevent hospitals from misusing lodging facilities. Yang woo-jin, head of a medical tourism association, said, If costs for lodging facilities are more expensive than those for sickrooms, hospitals will induce patients to stay at lodging facilities instead of hospitals.
Proper measures are necessary to prevent abuse, like setting a ratio of sickrooms to lodging facilities.