Four Nurses Quit As Ebola Fear Spreads In Korea

The fear of Ebola is spreading in Korea. 4 nurses at the National Medical Center quit after treating a potential Ebola patient from Sierra Leone. Though many assume they were worried about being infected with Ebola, the National Medical Center insists that they quit due to their own personal problems.

Article from Money Today:


Nurses Deterred By Ebola. Why Did They Quit?

The medical industry is becoming worried about possible Ebola infections. This stems from a decision by the Korean government to dispatch Korean medical teams to Ebola stricken nations in West Africa. Special cause for concern are the 4 nurses from the National Medical Center, who after treating potential Ebola patients, entered from Sierra Leone on October 8th. They quit their jobs presumably over their fear of Ebola. Many have voiced a need for better training before national medical teams are dispatched.

There is a great concern about not only doctors who treat potential Ebola patients, but also for the nurses who take care of them around the clock. Many point out that various countermeasures for both doctors and nurses should be put in place before dispatching medical teams .

Jong-bok Lee, assistant director of the National Medical Center, made a statement saying, “4 nurses quit last week after treating a 17-month-old boy. He was suffering from high fever after entering Korea from Sierra Leone on October 8th. The biggest cause of their resignation seems to be a fear of being infected by Ebola.”

On October 8th, Ministry of Health and Welfare announced that the 17-month-year old boy, who came from Sierra Leone with a high fever, is continuing to receive care in quarantine.

On October 8th, a 17-month-old boy came to Korea on flight EK322 from Sierra Leone. At the quarantine stage of immigration, he showed the symptoms of a high fever of approximately 38.3 degrees, and was isolated as a potential Ebola patient. He was then sent to the Epidemic Disease Control Center at the National Medical Center and treated by a task force medical team dealing specifically with Ebola.

On October 9th, the Ministry of Health and Welfare announced that the boy tested negative for the Ebola virus. Despite this, the nurses treating the boy appeared to suffer from severe stress.

Some of the nurses didn’t leave the hospital after giving treatment, but remained there at all times over fears that they could be spreading the Ebola virus to their families if somehow they became infected.

Lee stated, “As this was the first time the task force treated a potential Ebola patient for the first time, the task force nurses could have been extremely frightened. The National Medical Center provided psychiatrists for the nurses in case they were to feel overly frightened.”

After giving treatment, 4 out of 9 nurses in the task force have resigned. They were all in their 20’s and 30’s. The hospital is planning to fill the vacancies with more experienced nurses. The assistant director Lee stated that, “At that time nurses in the United States had gotten infected by Ebola, which made the nurses in Korea more afraid. In a way that they were working with their lives at stake, so they can’t help but feel a sense of fear.”

He said “In managing the crisis of epidemic diseases like Ebola, overreaction should be the guiding principle. Not just an isolation ward, but a ward that can block air circulation is needed for treating patients.”

He also added, “If there is a real Ebola patient, many countermeasures will need to be in place, including how to deal with waste, dining issues, and shower facilities for medical teams. Beyond this, education about the Ebola virus should be improved.”

Comments from Daum:

존 패트릭 라이언님:

I understand as each of them has only one life.


The number of old people who collect waste paper for a living is 1.75 million and their monthly salary is just about 50,000 won. Park Geun-hye cut the total amount of heating assistance for senior citizen centers next year by 60.3 billion won. Despite this, an overwhelming 71.4% of those 60 or older support Park Geun-hye. I applaud those old people who in their servile spirit still incomprehensibly think they can live on thanks to what she has done for them.


Ebola can affect everyone, including medical teams. Moreover, there are no doctors who diagnosed someone as having Ebola nor nurses who have treated Ebola patients in Korea. It can’t be acceptable to dispatch someone without any Ebola vaccine. Does the Korean government have anything to deal with Ebola? Why don’t the health minister and Spicy Chicken [Park Geun-hye] hold hands and go first to set a good example?


Who wants to sacrifice their lives with such a small amount of pay? It’s the natural thing to do if you use your common sense. Besides, under the Lee Myeong-bak/Geun-hye governments, we should protect our lives by ourselves since Korean government already lost that role. I have zero faith in the Korean government.


If I’m the one to be dispatched in Korea not in the US, I will quit. I’d be too likely to get abandoned.


Those nurses knew that if they died from Ebola, Korea would ignore it. Unlike the US, Korea doesn’t care about its people. They made a wise decision.


Send doctors who are children of lawmakers and chaebol families first.


What Park Geun-hye is saying to them is it’s not my life so go sacrifice yourselves. Is she insane? It would be better to gather people who want to commit suicide and send them.

ㅁㅇㅍ님 :

If I were in the situation, I would do the same. Ssibal! If someone is calm when he is forced to go to a dangerous area, he’s an idiot. Anyway, only soldiers would be the next target to be sent, tsk tsk.


Who else is going to volunteer to go help in the outbreak countries?


Send Park Geun-hye. She likes to go abroad on her own plane.

민태수님 :

They probably didn’t go in and just made the nurses do everything…


If I were one of those nurses, I would quit. I suggest the President visit West Africa to be a good example for others.


Those who are going to dispatch medical teams should go first.


Since the quality of the National Medical Center is worse than neighborhood hospitals, it seems natural for those nurses to quit. If they were safe, they wouldn’t. Anyway it sounds absurd that there’s a countermeasure headquarters. Does it have only one desk?


Send globe-trotter Geun-hye first. Why? Cuz she doesn’t want to go there.


In this situation, who the heck is the woman who decided to dispatch Korean medical teams to West Africa where the Ebola outbreak continues?


Which crazy bitch can force someone to go to Africa without being ready to deal with the disease? Ok, go to Africa. Even if you get sick it’s your problem – the government won’t take any responsibility for it. I’d bet my life on it!


“Many have voiced a need for better training before national medical teams are dispatched.”… What the heck? Look at this world. Isn’t Korea the kind of shit place making everyone protect themselves or else.


So stupid. Korea can’t treat even one potential Ebola patient, so how is it possible to send doctors and nurses? Korea must not send medical teams till there is a vaccine. Some people from the high rank at Ministry of Health and Welfare should be dispatched first for about 1 year and discuss again when they come back.

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  • David

    Wow. Those comments are pretty strong.

  • Small twon

    Good for them. Tell princess and her dwarfs ” wanna do it ?,send your own family or better yet, go by yourself”

  • commander

    Four health care workers tendered in their resignations, raising questions about whether the nation is ready to take on any Ebola infection, especially after its decided to send a medical team of volunteers to West Africa with a mission of assisting the global combat against the deteriorating Ebola crisis.

    The government’s dispatch decision came after President was requested for humanitarian aid from US State Secretary John Kerry during her overseas trip and responded positively to it.

    The government’s attempt to gather volunteers for the medical contingency is an indication that the humanitarian rescue effort is extremely hazardous. The risk is confounded by the fact that there are no effective treatment or vaccinations for the deadly virus which has claimed more than 4,500 lives and is projected to continuously increase.

    One available cure, called ZMapp, which cured two American doctors back to normal, has not one hundred percent certainty in its efficacy: Some respond to the medicine while others don’t.

    Some South Koreans are baffled when they heard the news that the four nurses quit their jobs because the departure of the four nurses with considerable medical expertise may indicate Ebola infections are much more dangerous than is generally thought.

    The government plans to dispatch an advance team to gauge what is happening and what is needed in West Africa before assembling the viable medical team for deployment to Ebola-stricken areas.

    It remains to be seen how the government will convince people to take part in the humanitarian mission after the four nurses resigned even here where Ebola infections sound like a story in a much-distant region, and almost one is concerned about the fatal disease creeping onto its soil.

    • elizabeth

      If it is voluntary, there shouldn’t be any need to resign. Just don’t volunteer unless, in the Korean context, it means an obligation to ‘volunteer’ in order to keep one’s job.

      • Sid Driver

        I would have to say that if they are resigning it’s probably because it’s an obligation to ‘volunteer’ in order to keep their job or save face for their superiors. (Volunteer or leave.) It’s sad that it would have had to come to this…

        • elizabeth

          If that is the case, the question would be, ‘How far should humanitarian aid go?’

          It sounds selfish, but it does not make sense to send healthy individuals (especially against their will) into the battleground without reliable defense and a cure. It’s a losing battle. People risk their lives, become infected, return to their countries and risk infecting others.

          That is not to say there shouldn’t be any aid at all. it should be a calculated risk. I applaud the volunteers but sending unprepared (and unwilling) teams to the danger zone for the sake of keeping up a humanitarian front isn’t exactly ‘humanitarian’.

      • commander

        There is some misunderstanding.

        First, the four nurses who resigned out of what an official from the hospital, for which they were working, sees as an Ebola infection fear, were regular health care workers, not volunteers.

        Second, after the United States request for South Korea to join the global effort to contain Ebola in West Africa, the government here decides to send a medical team composed of volunteers because a medical service to be provided by the Korean medical group to be sent is predictably very hazardous.

        So, the point you need to understand is that the four nurses are not volunteers, they were regular workers at the time of their resignation.

        What I want to deliver in the above commentary is that at a time when the four regular health care workers resigned in South Korea, which has fat chances of contracting Ebola, the government decided to dispatch a medical team to be filled with volunteers to Ebola-hit countries.

        This shows a rough road ahead in assembling volunteers who could risk their lives while providing medical services to Ebola patients in three West African countries where the deadly disease goes wild amid much-talked but little-materialized international efforts to rein in the contagious virus.

        • elizabeth

          Noted with thanks. It is good that you clarified. Makes a lot of difference on how the situation is perceived.

          • commander

            My pleasure. I am glad to hear you’ve got things right. :)

        • elizabeth

          To add, as regards the fear factor, it could help to educate the public on how the virus is spread. It is actually not that contagious (as in air-borne mode) and if proper measures are followed.

          • commander

            Yeah, according to news media in the United States where mandatory quarantines in some states, (especially New Jersey, and its governor Chris Christie on the mouth of people) for travelers to the United States from the three West African countries stir up controversy over whether it is too excessive overreaction discouraging volunteers to West Africa, Ebola is only get infected only through bodily fluids from an Ebola patient.

            And the changes are very low that a person–who has direct contact with another person who runs a fever, one of symptoms of Ebola infection after typical 21-day incubation period–get infected with the disease.

            I am very curious whether the obligatory quarantine order is a violation of civil rights as one nurse who returned from West Africa after working as a volunteer was imposed in her home quarantine before being declared Ebola free and, with grievances with what she sees as unfair treatment, filed a suit with a court against New Jersey Governor Christie.

          • elizabeth

            IMO, it is making a mountain out of a molehill to complain of being quarantined after returning from a hotspot. I mean, if I care enough about lives to risk mine in a hotspot, I wouldn’t mind being quarantined for 21 days for the sake of my countrymen upon my return.

            But in the nurse’s case, it is more of an issue of bad execution. If we’re talking about the same person, I think it was because the quarantine officers treated her like a criminal/outcast, with no proper communication/explanation that blew her fuse. Having put her life on the line only to be mistreated instead of being appreciated upon her return, I’d understand why she wanted to sue.

          • commander

            Few would want to become agents carrying the deadly disease to their homeland for a horrible pandemic there.

            I think we are talking about the same nurse, named Kaci Hickox, who protested publicly her quarantine saying that she had no obvious symptoms of Ebola infections at the airport she arrived in a flight and it is unfair to place her in quarantine just because she returned to the United States from West Africa.

            President Obama also is concerned that such measures could discourage volunteers from going to West Africa for medical service which is desperately needed.

            With just five days away before the Nov. 4th senate elections in the United States–an upper house election that will determine Obama’s legacy during his second term, I hope voters in the districts where the elections are to be held will not be persuaded to believe that Obama’s Ebola response is not effective.

          • elizabeth

            It boils down to priorities. E.g. the Australians aren’t dipping their toes in until they’ve got their people protected and contingencies in place. That’s probably wiser and more effective in the long run. But then again, it might just be an excuse not to get involved. The US approach is more generous in that sense. Kudos to them heroes.

          • commander

            Swift and effective response to bring under control is important, but what is equally important is to refrain from overreacting by placing too much restrictions on people.

            Striking a balance between effective anti-Ebola response and reassuring and reasonable handling with the disease is what is exactly required of the federal and state governments alike.

        • tomoe723

          But still, what’s the point of them having to resign if they were regular workers?

          • commander

            That means the they were willing to give up their jobs for fear of Ebola infection.

            At a time when landing a steady job is more competitive and getting harder, their decision to resign is an indication of the seriousness of their Ebola infection fears if the speculation hat they quit their jobs out of fear of Ebola proves right.

  • JEng

    hospital workers are calling in sick in NY

    • JEng

      This reminds me of the SARS doctor who died which echoed the doctors in China who died fighting Japanese germ warfare. People cried when Lai Ming portrayed that doctor in one of the Golden Chicken movies.

      There are so many tears that deserve to be shed for the unbelievable and unspeakable suffering of the victims of WW2. Japan and Germany want to feel sorry for themselves without exposing themselves to further publicity of what they inflicted on others. That is why German complaints about being raped by Tartars at the end of WW2 never lead them to join groups like the Comfort Women supporters – because of what they did to Slavic females including tattooing Feld Hure on their chests so they would live out their lives MARKED by what Germany had done to them.

  • Korea1Disqus1

    Korean media should respect Korean nurse wishes……… under Korean Medical system I really cannot blame them……………

  • Sid Driver

    I wonder when the first Ebola case is diagnosed in Korea what the government will do/say then?

  • This story just laid the foundation for the next Korea hospital drama.
    *anxiously waiting*

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