Amid the pandemic of SARS since 2003, NCKU continued to shoulder its responsibility for public health in southern Taiwan
In less than half a year after the outbreak of the SARS epidemic in March 2003, Taiwan reported 669 probable cases with 84 deaths. This epidemic appeared to be spreading in Taiwan faster than anywhere else, as community infections and nosocomial infections had occurred one after another. In the face of this sudden emerging disease, Taiwan’s healthcare system and medical institutions were confronted with serious challenges, especially when cluster infections started to emerge in hospitals in Taipei and Kaohsiung.
Immediately after an increasing number of cases were reported in northern Taiwan, NCKU Hospital was firing on all cylinders. At the end of March, the hospital convened its first SARS emergency response meeting to complete the establishment of prevention and control measures, and the formation of specific teams, respectively responsible for medical treatment, emergency response, monitoring, logistics support, healthcare resources, educational resources, and public relations.
Thereafter, all teams were fully committed to their tasks on the prevention and control of the SARS epidemic, performing a wide range of duties from fever screening, clinical diagnosis and treatment, case notification, information collection, meetings and discussions, formulation of policy and measures, simulation drills, protection demonstrations, personnel monitoring and tracking, and telephone consultations. Challenges came along over the course of the SARS epidemic, yet thanks to the response teams, not a single problem was left unsolved.
During the anti-SARS battle, NCKU Hospital was designated as the specialty hospital responsible for prevention against the disease in southern Taiwan. With one concerted effort, hospital staff built a strong firewall against the pandemic. For example, Ward 12A was ground zero to contain SARS within the hospital. Furthermore, NCKU Hospital received a subsidy from Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to build fully-equipped negative pressure isolation wards and create a comprehensive set of guidelines for quarantine, SOPs, and regular drills.
Whenever a global pandemic hits, NCKU Hospital always shoulders its responsibility for prevention and control of the emerging infectious disease in southern Taiwan. From the H1N1 flu in 2009, the MERS outbreak in 2013, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014, Ebola outbreaks in DRC during 2018-2020, to the COVID-19 outbreaks around the world since the end of 2019 till today, NCKU Hospital has never given up its attempts to become the most reliable medical institution for epidemic prevention in southern Taiwan.
A 2003 photo of hospital staff clad in Level C clothing during the SARS epidemic. (Photo courtesy of NCKU Hospital)
A photo of medical personnel conducting a shift handover and attending a morning meeting at outdoor emergency stations during the SARS epidemic. (Photo courtesy of NCKU Hospital)