Hospital staff shed helmets after 2 days

By Chen Hong (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-12-27 06:50

SHENZHEN: Life returned to normal at a private hospital in this southern city yesterday after its staff spent two days wearing helmets to defend against possible attacks by a group of people demanding compensation for the death of a former patient.

Several nurses wear hamlets at Shanxia Hospital in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong Province Tuesday, December 26, 2006. [Nanfang Metropolitan News]

However, it is not yet clear whether the defensive measures were necessary, as both police and the people involved in the dispute deny that any violence occurred.

Zeng Xi, a spokeswoman of Shanxia Hospital in Longgang District, said the hospital's staff had taken off their armour on Monday night and negotiations with the group were underway.

"We have nothing new to release now," she told China Daily yesterday afternoon.

Zeng said the hospital would search for a legal solution to the disagreement, the website reported early yesterday.

According to the hospital's management, a group of people attacked workers at the hospital last week after the hospital refused to take responsibility for the death of one of the attacker's family members. Several doctors were hit on head during the commotion, hospital officials claimed.

The man, a migrant labourer, had been sent to the hospital with injuries after a traffic accident in late November and recovered smoothly. However, on the day he was to leave the hospital, he had trouble breathing and then his heart suddenly stopped beating. All efforts to save him failed last Tuesday.

The hospital presumed the man had died from an acute pulmonary embolism, a condition that is nearly always fatal, and said it should not be held responsible. Staff suggested an autopsy be carried out, but the family refused.

According to security guards at the hospital, the man's family led a group of nearly 100 people to the hospital, where they burned the dead man's shoes and clothes, threw firecrackers, played the suona horn, a Chinese traditional instrument, and even ran into the wards.

Police and local community officials intervened. On Saturday, a vice-chairman of the hospital signed an agreement with the family to pay 150,000 yuan (US$19,160) in "humane aid compensation," to be handed over before 2 pm on Monday.

However, the hospital's chairman, Yang Yushan, refused to pay and blamed the government for trying to settle the case by forcing the hospital to sign an agreement, according to a report by the Guangzhou-based newspaper Southern Metropolis Daily yesterday.

Yang said it would be unfair to the hospital because the cause of death was unknown.

Zeng said: "If the hospital agrees to pay the 150,000 yuan, that means we admit the death was the fault of the hospital, which would have immeasurable impact on the hospital's future development."

However, both police and the man's family members denied that the group had acted as violently as the hospital claimed.

Police said the people who had gathered at the hospital were restrained. They said the people had burned the clothes and some paper money, which is a traditional rite for the dead, but were stopped immediately, according to a report by Southern Metropolis Daily.

Wang Sen, a representative of the family, said the family trusted the government would sort the situation out and would wait patiently for their compensation.

They did not visit the hospital again after the agreement was signed.

However, Yang said he had heard that the people were planning to "knock down the hospital" if they did not get the money in time.

Li Zicai, an official with a local community office involved in mediating the case, said Yang had acted irrationally by asking hospital staff members to wear helmets.

"The vice-chairman had talked with Yang on the phone before he signed the agreement. Without the recognition from Yang, how would he have signed?" Li told China Daily.

He said he had heard that Yang had also offered to donate the hospital to the country. "I don't know why he is doing all of this," Li said.

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