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‘Medical checkups as crucial as treatment’

To stay healthly, the quality of medical checkups is as crucial as that of medical treatment, Ewha Womans University Health Promotion Center chief Kim Joung-sook said.

“Three components of the medical process determine your health: the quality of medical checkups, medical service provider and after-care,” Kim added.

Ewha Womans University Health Promotion Center, one of the key health divisions of Ewha Womans University Medical Center in southwestern Seoul, has served as a pioneer in medical examinations and after-care for women since 2009. The hospital is the first of its kind in the nation to provide medical services to women with a focus on women-specific diseases such as ovarian, cervical and endometrial cancers.

Separating female and male patients for all medical checkup processes, the Health Promotion Center has put efforts into securing privacy for women while providing more comfort. It is the first of its kind in the country. 
Kim Joung-sook, chief of Ewha Womans University Health Promotion Center. (Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald)
Kim Joung-sook, chief of Ewha Womans University Health Promotion Center. (Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald)

“Patients have to be fully naked and wear only (hospital) gowns when having a health screening. Many female patients tend to feel uneasy and uncomfortable when men conduct the examinations or male patients stay in the same space,” said Kim. “We wanted to help relax women who feel embarrassed or uncomfortable.”

The first initiative succeeded in attracting more patients, leading other hospitals to benchmark the system. But Kim stressed that the quality of medical checkups and after-care cannot be copied.

“The care is a matter of sincerity. Ewha may not be the largest hospital but we make the most efforts to deliver care with sincerity,” she said.

The other distinguished strategy is promptness. Unlike other medical institutions, Ewha finishes up all its processes ― from medical checkups to surgery ― in less than a week.

“This is only possible when enough financial investment and human resources are input,” Kim stressed.

The ratio of medical staff to patients here is about 1.5-to-1.

Thanks to the quick one-stop service, the overall number of female patients doubled last year. Those having gynecological medical checkups have also shown a 10 percent increase every year.

With medical staff fluent in English, the center has also attracted a great number of foreign patients, especially from the U.S., China and Russia. Some even come from Africa and Vietnam.

For Chinese and Russians, the hospital keeps professional translators on standby. While the hospital is putting efforts into maximizing female patients’ satisfaction, it never forgets its social responsibility.

Marking its fifth anniversary this month, the center established a special health examination facility for workers with tough work conditions such as those that work night-shifts or are exposed to chemicals. For those in difficult work conditions, specialized medical examinations are required depending on the type of occupation. Ewha is the only university hospital in southwestern Seoul that opened a special health care system for these workers.

“We are looking to take a leap forward in caring for the health and mind of workers as well as those of women,” stressed Kim. 

Kim Joung-sook

Kim Joung-sook, specialized in imagery interpretation and interventional procedure, took office in 2009 as chief of Ewha Womans University Health Promotion Center.

She studied medicine at Ewha Womans University and received a doctorate from Korea University.

Kim started her teaching career at Inje University Paik Hospital in Seoul after being certified as a radiology specialist in 1990.

She participated in a one-year training program as a clinical fellow at Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, Canada, in 1995.

By Lee Hyun-jeong (