|An architect’s rendering of a hospital to be built by Purme Foundation in Sangam-dong, western Seoul (Purme Foundation)|
The project is the centerpiece of Purme’s campaign since its establishment in 2004 to help disabled children who are often deprived of a chance at a better life due to the lack of adequate rehabilitation services.
“Our data shows that nearly 15,000 children in Korea require hospitalized rehabilitation care. But there is no hospital for them,” said Paik Kyung-hak, the foundation’s executive director.
There used to be two rehabilitation hospitals for children but they both closed due to financial difficulties, he added.
Purme Foundation opened the Purme Rehabilitation Center in July in Jongno, Seoul, which houses a dental clinic, an oriental medicine clinic and various therapeutic facilities for disabled children. Nearly 3,000 individuals and companies donated a total of 8.5 billion won ($7.8 million) for its construction.
|Paik Kyung-hak (left), executive director of Purme Foundation, holds the hand of a child receiving physiotherapy at Purme Rehabilitation Center in Jongno, Seoul. (Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald)|
“It is the first of its kind for disabled kids. Yet, it only provides care on an outpatient basis. To treat those in more severe conditions, we need a hospital with an inpatient ward,” he said.
Seoul’s Mapo Ward Office has pledged to provide 3,215 square meters of land in Sangam-dong, western Seoul, as the hospital site. Seoul Metropolitan Government has also pledged a 7 billion won setup assistance fund.
Still, Purme would need at least 38 billion won more for the construction of the hospital, Paik said. “We aim for its opening in 2015.”
To run it and the existing Jongno center, Purme must have a constant stream of income, for which Paik relies mostly on donations.
“Running a rehabilitation hospital is not a profitable business. As long as we stick to our goal of providing care at low cost to as many patients as possible, there is no way we can break even,” he said.
Running the Jongno center since July, he projected that it would run about 440 million won in deficit every year.
“We will do what we can to save costs, but the gap is far beyond our reach,” he said.
After all, rehabilitation for the disabled is a task of our society as a whole, not something that one foundation can fulfill, Paik said.
“It took seven years to build the Purme Rehabilitation Center. We’re now working to realize a bigger dream, and a much costlier one.
“But I am more confident than before, because I witnessed how warm hearts make what first looked like a distant dream come true,” he said.
To donate, visit www.purme.org or call (02) 720-7002.
By Lee Sun-young (firstname.lastname@example.org)