The Greenland International Medical Center, conditionally approved last year as South Korea's first for-profit hospital, has recently filed an administrative lawsuit to have a condition of its operation revoked, officials said Monday.
In the suit filed by its holding company, Greenland Holdings Corporation Ltd., with the Jeju District Court on Feb. 14, the medical center said that it is illegal for the government of Jeju to ban it from treating domestic patients.
The Greenland medical center received the final approval from the Jeju provincial government as South Korea's first for-profit hospital on Dec. 5 last year, putting an end to 16 years of controversy over the introduction of investor-owned medical institutions.
However, the approval was given on the condition that the hospital cater only to foreign patients. Its Chinese investor, the Shanghai-based Greenland Group, has protested the ban on South Korean patients.
The Greenland medical center's holding company insisted in the lawsuit that it is unlawful to limit the scope of patients eligible for treatment at the Greenland medical center only to foreigners.
The Jeju government, on the other hand, said it doesn't have any intention to change the condition for the opening of the first for-profit hospital, vowing to form a team of legal professionals to handle the administrative suit by the Greenland medical center.
Meanwhile, the Chinese-owned medical center has shown little signs of taking opening procedures, though it is obliged by South Korea's medical law to start medical services before March 4.
The hospital doesn't have a single doctor as of now and has not taken any procedures to hire doctors. If the medical center fails to hire doctors and launch medical services by March 4, its medical business license can be revoked through a public hearing, Jeju officials said.
A for-profit hospital is a medical institution that combines foreign capital with domestic medical resources and provides comprehensive medical services to foreign patients.
Under the current law, the Greenland medical center must begin medical services within 90 days after obtaining its approval.
The hospital had hired 134 medical workers, including nine doctors, 28 nurses, 10 nursing assistants and 18 international coordinators, as of August 2017, when it applied for the approval from the provincial government.
As the opening was delayed by more than one year, all of the nine doctors in charge of the plastic surgery, dermatology, internal medicine and family medicine departments quit. (Yonhap)