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Patient care endangered as the Prefecture struggles with debt

Date Posted: 2008-10-31

The Okinawa Prefecture-owned hospital will collapse if changes aren’t made to the financial system that governs its operations.

That’s the thinking of a university professor speaking at a regional medical care symposium. Tomonobu Iseki, a panelist at the seminar, says “It’s no wonder that the Okinawa Prefecture-owned hospital is heading for collapse if the system is not changed quickly.” The Josei University assistant professor says “even if the hospital goes private, and the quality of organization is not changed, the collapse will come more quickly.”

The Prefecture-owned hospital is struggling to repay a ¥10 billion loan, and that’s the primary problem, says Iseki. “It has to improve the organization,” he says, comparing it to individuals with loans, who must change the lifestyle or conditions in order to make payments.

Patient care is good, for now, says the professor, who notes that the loan repayment is making everything difficult and leading to deterioration of medical quality. He says hospital operations managers have no influence over the budget or hospital organization, and that’s why there are financial problems.
With the central government and the Prefecture facing mounting financial obstacles, hospitals are seemingly “thinking it’s somebody else’s problem” to fix the problems, says Iseki.

Speakers at the symposium praised the quality of care at Okinawa Prefecture’s hospital, noting patients are never bounced around from one hospital to another. Patients are accepted, and good care is provided, leaving participants to consensus the Prefecture needs to have its own hospital.

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