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MERS-Free ‘National Safe Hospital’ to Be Operated

  • Date : 2015-06-26
  • Hit : 3415

MERS-Free ‘National Safe Hospital’ to Be Operated

- The Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Korean Hospital Association will jointly select ‘National Safe Hospitals’, which include major hospitals nationwide –

The Ministry of Health and Welfare (Minister: Moon Hyung-pyo) held a meeting with the Korean Medical Association, Korean Hospital Association and directors of major hospitals on June 11, 2015 to discuss measures to stop the further spread of the MERS-CoV. At the meeting, the Ministry acknowledged the medical community for their hard work while listening to the difficulties that the medical staffs face in their daily fight against the virus.

- The Ministry also decided to select ‘National Safe Hospitals’ to ease the public fear and to ensure medical care in a safer environment.

‘National Safe Hospital’ refers to a hospital that sequesters severe respiratory disease patients from others from the point of their entry to hospitals to the point of hospitalization.

- The selection of ‘National Safe Hospital’ aims to alleviate public concerns of the virus and to fundamentally contain the super-spreading events in hospitals.

The super-spreading events in hospitals are mostly triggered by MERS-CoV patients with severe pneumonia symptoms than those who develop mild ones.

- In fact, MERS-CoV patients who developed severe pneumonia have super-spread the virus as they visited highly populated ERs or outpatient clinics before being confirmed as MERS-CoV patients.

n The path taken by Patient No. 14 who spread the virus to multiple people at Samsung Seoul Medical Center

Pyongtaek St. Mary’s Hospital Pyongtaek Good Morning HospitalSamsung Seoul Medical Center ER (55 infections)

- ‘National Safe Hospital’ was selected based on the consensus that preventive measures to fundamentally root out any super-spread event in hospitals, especially by patients with severe respiratory illness including pneumonia need to be implemented.

In addition, the public’s tendency to avoid or postpone even an essential medical care due to fear of infection was considered for this decision.

- In particular, patients with respiratory disease were having hard time receiving crucial medical care as some clinics were reluctant to render medical service while other patients did not want them around. This factor also was considered in designating ‘National Safe Hospital.’

[Overview of National Safe Hospital]





Receive care without any fear of infection

Patients with Respiratory Disease

Receive care in a safe environment

Selective Clinics



Single-Bed Room

(MERS-CoV tested

in case of fever)

Hospital Ward

(Multi-bed room)

MERS-CoV Test (-)

Even in the case of MERS-CoV outbreak, infection in hospitals is minimized



Patients with Respiratory Disease


Suspected of Pneumonia

National Safe Hospital

At present

For the prevention of any hospital infection, ‘National Safe Hospital’ needs to satisfy the following seven criteria:

(Outpatient/ER) Set up a separate outpatient clinic for patients showing symptoms of respiratory disease in areas less exposed to the general public in order to specifically deal with them without having them contact people in ER or general outpatient clinics.

* Most hospitals had set up a separated outpatient clinics using tents or container boxes in the past during the bird-flu outbreak.

(Hospital Ward) Pneumonia-suspected patients will be cared in a single occupancy. In order words, they will be hospitalized in a single-bed room or in a multi-bed room without sharing the room. This intends to minimize any possibility of spreading the virus to other patients.

- Pneumonia-suspected patients developing fever will be tested for MERS-CoV by using PCR assay

(Incentive Care Unit) Any pneumonia patient who needs intensive care must get tested for MERS-CoV to confirm that they are virus-free before being admitted to an ICU.

(Medical Personnel Protection) Medical Personnel treating pneumonia-suspected patients should fully clad themselves in protective gears and root out any possibility of spreading the virus to other wards by thoroughly following hygienic procedures.

(Limitation of Patient Visit) The number of people allowed to visit patients during certain hours will be kept to a minimum, and they will be asked to fill out visitors log book when entering an ER or a hospital ward.

(Contact Check) All existing inpatients and newly admitted ones will be checked whether they contacted any confirmed MERS-CoV patient.

* Suspected and confirmed MERS-CoV cases are electronically compiled and run in a system of medical institutions to ensure medical facilities’ contact tracing.

(Reinforced Infection Prevention & Control) Be equipped with hygienic items, including hand sanitizer and disposal mask, and improve infection prevention environment by setting up a dedicated infection management team.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare noted that the ‘National Safe Hospital’ will beneficial to the public and patients with respiratory disease and at the same time prevent further spread of MERS-CoV.

- The ‘National Safe Hospital’ will enable the public to receive medical care in a safer environment without having to worry about contracting MERS-CoV, and at the same time, it will also help patients with respiratory disease to get necessary medical service without being treated unfair.

- In addition, from the perspective of MERS-CoV infection control, it will prevent super-spread events in hospitals, only creating a small number of infections in a limited area even in the case of outbreak. The operation of the ‘National Safe Hospitals’ will effectively serve to stop the spread of MERS-CoV driven by hospital-acquired infections.

- Contact tracing and management is the most important measure to halt the further spread of MERS-CoV, and it is regarded as a direct measure taken on the front line. Meanwhile, the operation of ‘National Safe Hospital’ is another way to preemptively contain the virus by changing the hospital system itself. Given that the operation of ‘National Safe Hospital’ can reduce the exposure to MERS-CoV in hospitals, it is expected to increase the possibility of successful contact tracing and management.

Jointly with the Korean Hospital Association, the Ministry of Health and Welfare will receive applications, and then designate the applicants as ‘National Safe Hospital’ as soon as they are meet the criteria.

- As of today, around 30 medical facilities have already filed applications. The Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Korean Hospital Association will continue to receive applications until announcing the list of National Safe Hospital on June 12, 2015.

- The medical community agrees to render proactive support by encouraging as much hospitals as possible, in particular, general hospital or upper-level medical institutions* which treat serious cases, to apply for ‘National Safe Hospital’ designation

* 43 upper level general hospitals and 287 general hospitals

For National Safe Hospitals, the fee for single occupancy (150~200 thousand won) required for treating patients with respiratory disease in isolation as well as the fee for infection control on the day of outpatient clinic visit or hospital admission (10 thousand won) will be specially covered by national health insurance.

In such a case, the out-of-pocket expense for patients with respiratory disease will largely remain unchanged while they will be able to use a one-bed room without paying additional fee.

In addition, the government will form a joint monitoring team with the Korean Hospital Association to check whether National Safe Hospitals continue to meet the criteria required for qualification.

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