The Seoul city government said Friday it will invest a total of 612 billion won ($479.7 million) over the next four years to beef up the city's public medical services, including the construction of three new city-run hospitals.
The project was launched amid growing calls for an expansion of the public health system to deal with health crisis situations, such the COVID-19 pandemic, and meet the needs of the less privileged, city officials said.
Under the plan, a 600-bed capacity general hospital will be constructed in the southern district of Seocho by 2026 on a 400 billion-won budget. With a special center dedicated to the treatment of infectious diseases, the hospital will provide public health services in non-crisis situations in the area while taking on the role of a control tower in health crisis situations.
On a combined 104 billion-won budget, Seoul will also open the city's first ever public rehabilitation hospital for patients with disabilities as well as a dental hospital for the disabled in the city's southwestern region, according to the officials.
Existing city-run hospitals will also be renovated to better serve the public, with Boramae Medical Center in western Seoul to receive 40 billion won to launch a special center for respiratory diseases with 72 isolated beds by 2024.
The city's various mental health centers will be incorporated into Seoul Eunpyeong Hospital to make it Seoul's key medical center focusing on outpatients with mental problems.
Seoul Seobuk Hospital will be reborn as a hospital dedicated to tuberculosis patients and people with dementia while Seoul Bukbu Hospital will be renovated as a rehabilitation hospital catering to the elderly, the city noted.
"The number of city-run hospitals will be expanded to 15 from the current 12 in order to beef up the network of public medical services for the underprivileged," Mayor Oh Se-hoon said, vowing "aggressive" investment in upgrading the city's health services. (Yonhap)