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Doctor shortage limiting new hospital services

Date Posted: 2006-03-10

Yuuai Kui Hospital was supposed to fulfill Okinawa Prefecture’s medical needs beginning April 1st.

That’s not going to happen, because officials at the hospital contracted by the former Prefecture-owned southern hospital doesn’t have enough doctors. Twenty doctors are needed to provide a full range of services, but the Yuuai Kui Hospital now has only 10. A Yuuai Kai Doctors Group spokesman says “it’s too soon to open. We made the contract and are on the way to hiring the 20 doctors we need, but we’re not there yet.”

The Group has told the Prefecture to send emergency patients to Tomishiro Central Hospital until they get their doctor level up to strength. “We can’t take emergency patients yet,” the spokesman said, “and right now we’ve reduced the hospital bed capacity down from 250 to 150. As soon as the doctors are coming, we will increase the number of beds and open the emergency room.”

He says it could take four years to reach full service status. The Yuuai Kai Doctors Group says “the Prefecture should send doctors to our hospital, because we’ve taken over what was the Prefecture-owned hospital. They have a responsibility to care for citizens.”

The Prefecture disagrees. A government spokesman says “we have heard that the Yuuai Kai Hospital is there, and they can take care of the emergency patients. It will be alright now.”

An observer says it’s a tough situation for the newly contracted hospital, and for citizens. He warns residents living on the southern part of Okinawa Island to be careful, and not get sick.

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