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Hanyang University Hospital's Children's School at Risk
Jeon Jae-hyun  |  jjaehyun97@hanyang.ac.kr
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[340호] 승인 2018.12.03  
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Hanyang University (HYU) Hospital recently investigated in closing down the Hanyang Children’s School without any discussion with the student volunteers in charge of the institution, and announced that abolishment of the school was already in progress. HYU Hospital made a clear statement saying that they had to make the hard decision of closing the school due to the decreasing number of child patients, lack of space, financial issues, and an amendment in medical laws. The student volunteers who are also the teachers for the school and the parents of the children strongly went against this decision and demanded reconsideration. They were unhappy with the situation because the hospital did not have a discussion with them in advance, regarding the proposed abolishment. As time went by, it turned out that HYU Hospital had another statement to maintain the system.

HYU Student-teachers’ Stance About Hanyang Children’s School
Hanyang Children’s School was established in 2003 by an adolescent patient’s request to take classes in the hospital. Hanyang Children’s School is for children suffering from illnesses such as leukemia and chronic kidney disease, and thus need long-term hospitalization. The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education (SMOE) approved this school and made a consignment operating agreement so that the patients can catch up with their peers’ educational levels. The teachers have helped child patients keep up with their studies in subjects such as Korean, English, Mathematics, Social Studies, and Science. Also, they have brought lots of happiness by providing activities such as science experiments, cooking classes, art, magic shows, and piano lessons. To protect this school from closing down, the student teachers of Hanyang Children’s School started to publicize this issue by putting hand-written posters on more than ten buildings in the campus, posting card news on social media, and reporting this to the official press. They also requested a meeting with the director of the hospital, but was rejected due to the director’s busy schedule. Park Se-eun, the Vice President of Hanyang Children’s School, explained that, “Two weeks ago, during a meeting, I heard from an academic advisor about this issue. So I emailed the director of the hospital in order to discuss its possibility. He answered, “After very careful consideration, we have inevitably concluded to abolish the Children’s School.” But, in latest news, I read that he says, “There will be no abolishment during the tenure of my office.” So I emailed him again about the news, but he gave me the management support team director’s email address and told me that this person is in charge of this issue from now on.” Because of the medical law amendment, the hospital is remodeling its entire building structure including the Children’s School. The capacity size of a classroom has now shrunk from six people to two people. This year’s number of child patients is eight in total; three who are staying for a long term and five who are staying for a short term. Kim Ha-eun, a student-volunteer of Hanyang Children’s School, explained that, “We make our own teaching materials and curriculums, but we require the hospital to provide the textbooks. The hospital receives a supporting fund from the SMOE and plans out every year’s budget. The hospital only pays their money for the classroom and to the one person that manages the entire system.” Furthermore, based on the medical law, due to the degradation of the child patients’ immunity, it is impossible to run the children’s school somewhere else other than a hospital.

The Hospital’s Stance HYU
Hospital had to consider about the abolishment mostly because of the amendment. But recently, the director of the hospital has announced that there would no longer be a discussion about the abolishment. The medical law amendment is all about constructing more “negative pressure rooms” due to the MERS outbreak and increasing the distance between rooms to prevent infections. After teachers of the children’s school publicized the school’s abolishment issue to the press, the hospital and the SMOE held a meeting to solve the problems about this issue and to plan about the hospital’s reconstruction. Kim Dai-hee, Manager of External Cooperation & Public Relations at HYU Medical Center, explained that, “Although the capacity of the classrooms decreased, I think it won’t be a problem to study for two to three hours a week.” The reconstruction will be finished in mid-December. In the meantime, HYU Hospital has investigated the case of Seoul Child Hospital. But the manager of Seoul Child Hospital Children’s School pointed out that it is irrelevant for HYU Hospital to refer to this case since Seoul Child Hospital is only for child patients who have developmental disorders. Not only were the lack of space and number of child patients the problem, but it also turned out that HYU Hospital had to pay an extra fee regarding the children’s school. Personnel expenses for nurses cost 60 million won every year, and the SMOE is not supporting funds for that. The reason why this has been such an issue is because the hospital had discussed closing down the Children’s School several times. In the end, HYU Hospital decided to keep the school open. Kim added, “On behalf of the directors of HYU Hospital, we will always be open minded to communicate well with the teachers of the school in the future.” This issue has created some negativity toward the hospital, but HYU Hospital has been a good model for other university hospitals. In fact, other hospitals started to establish Children’s Schools in their buildings as well, and nowadays, there are 54 Children’s Schools, which are similar to that of HYU Hospital.

The SMOE’s Stance
The SMOE has signed a MOU contract with HYU Hospital and has provided 20 million won as a supporting fund. The supporting fund amount depends mainly on the number of child patients. From March to June, according to the statistics given by the SMOE, there were 12 child patients, but now has decreased to eight. It is expected to decrease more in the future, due to demographic changes. The SMOE realized this issue through the media and has had an insightful conversation  with HYU Hospital, but they were not able to elaborate on the details of what agreement they had reached during the meeting. There appears to be a gray area in the difference between HYU Hospital’s school and other schools, and whether or not abolishment decisions need to be discussed with the SMOE. In comparison to children’s schools in other hospital’s the abolishment of the school has been directly discussed by the SMOE. A Controversy that Should No Longer Be Repeated In conclusion, it is very pleasing to hear that Hanyang Children’s School is no longer at risk. The funding system might have some flaws, such as personnel expenses, which need to be more clearly accounted for. If HYU Hospital pays less for the school and frequently communicates constantly with the student teachers, it is hopeful to believe that Hanyang Children’s School will be maintained.

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