Mr Hong Joon-Pyo
Governor of Kyunsangsamdo Province
South Korea Fax: +82 055 284 9393
Mr Jin Young
Minister of Health and Social Affairs
South Korea Fax: +82 02 2023 7017
Nyon, 21 March 2013
Re: Forced Closure of Jinjoo Medical Center
I am writing to you to express UNI Global Union’s concerns about the sudden announcement last month to close Jinjoo Medical Center in Kyungnam Province. UNI is a global union federation representing over 20 million workers in 900 national unions throughout the world, including our affiliate, the Korea Health & Medical Services Workers Union (KHMU) which is part of our social insurance sector, called UNICARE.
We understand that this drastic decision, which impacts hundreds of thousands of people in the region and 350 hospital employees, was announced without prior consultation with the Kyungnam Province Council and without adequate explanation to the union and the healthcare workers at the Center.
Jinjoo Medical Center, with a 103 year history operating as a public medical institution, is an important part of the life of the Kyungnam Province. Annually, it provides public health and medical services to over 200,000 patients and it had been selected as a pilot hospital for the important public healthcare initiative, Without Care-by-Family program.
Specific services this regional medical center provides the community include dental services for the Disabled, Elderly Care Center, as well as services for chronic disease patients, single-elderly and low income earners and it provides health care education throughout the region.
We know the Center, given its public health care nature, has struggled to avoid carrying an operating deficit. Over the last 6 years, the Jinjoo Medical Center Workers Union, an affiliate of KHMU, agreed to accept the Pain-Sharing Package which included wage and hiring freezes, delayed payment of wages, early retirements, redundancies, no claims for annual leave and Saturday work without payment. A number of other changes in operating policies were accepted to reduce costs. Workers of the Center have demonstrated a tremendous personal commitment to keep the Center operating. In spite of this, the closure of Jinjoo Medical Center is the first closure of the 34 regional medical centers in the country, many of which are also experiencing operating deficits.
As recently as 2008, in order to meet the increasing demand of quality public health care services in the region, there was a significant infusion of governmental funds to modernize Jinjoo Medical Center. The Central Government injected W20 billion and the Kyungnam Local Government another W9 billion. These funds increased the number of hospital beds, provided modern high-tech medical equipment and expanded healthcare access to over 30,000 poor families who are dependent on the government’s medical-support program. Additionally, the Kyungman Province is 2/2 growing based on innovative city development and housing projects which will further increase demand for healthcare services in the area. This healthcare investment is lost if Jinjoo Medical Center is now closed. We know these are difficult decisions but UNI and KHMU urge you to find a better solution and to keep Jinjoo Medical Center open for service to the community.
growing based on innovative city development and housing projects which will further increase demand for healthcare services in the area. This healthcare investment is lost if Jinjoo Medical Center is now closed. We know these are difficult decisions but UNI and KHMU urge you to find a better solution and to keep Jinjoo Medical Center open for service to the community.