Prof. Lee Guk-jong
Chief of Ajou Univ. trauma center
By Kim Tae-jong
All the eyes and ears of the public are turning to Ajou University Hospital in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province as its surgeons are undertaking the critical task of treating Seok Hae-kyun, the wounded captain of the cargo ship Samho Jewelry.
Not only the captain but also the hospital has drawn public attention as people are a bit curious as to why the relatively unknown hospital ― not Seoul National University Hospital and other top-rated general hospitals ― is in charge of the mission to revive the captain.
The answer is simple, Ajou University Hospital, though not a big hospital, has the nation’s best trauma center equipped to provide comprehensive emergency medical services to patients in critical condition suffering multiple, serious injuries like Seok.
The head of the hospital confidently said the trauma center will provide Seok with the highest level of surgical care based on the hospital’s specialized and experienced multidisciplinary treatment methods and resources.
“We’ve realized the importance of a trauma center long ago, and as part of the preparation, we sent professor Lee Guk-jong abroad for training in trauma treatment,” Yoo Hee-seok, head of Ajou University Hospital, said in a news briefing on Jan. 31. “We have the best medical team at the center and a record high success rate in the treatment of patients with serious injuries.”
A trauma center is a comparatively rare emergency care unit here largely because it is not cost-effective. It requires a full range of specialists and equipment available 24 hours a day, to be ready to immediately and accurately diagnose and treat patients with serious conditions.
But Ajou University Hospital has a team of 20 medical doctors in the center, including surgeons, emergency physicians and anesthesiologists, available 24 hours a day along with advanced medical equipment.
Its dedication to the emergency care unit led the hospital to receive Trauma Center verification by the Ministry of Health and Welfare last April.
Recognizing such expertise and experience, the government sent Professor Lee, chief of the center, to the Omani hospital Seok was initially treated in on Jan. 21. He was in critical condition after suffering multiple gunshot wounds during the rescue operation that freed his ship, and needed immediate surgery.
As a trauma surgeon, Lee completed his residency training at trauma centers in UC San Diego Medical Center in the United States in 2003 and the Royal London Hospital in Britain in 2007 after he graduated from Ajou University in 1995.
Recognized as one of the best trauma surgeons here, he became the youngest member of the Korea Trauma Committee in 2004 and participated in a study to establish regional trauma centers proposed by the health ministry.