“Are we in the right place?” We gaze around as we walk into the hospital trying to find a clue that indicates that this is a hospital for migrant workers.
Although it is only more than 140 patients have already visited the hospital since morning. But since many of them are Korean Chinese, the scene at the
The first migrant worker hospital to be established in
Due to lack of medical supplies there are times when some patients have to retrace their way, but there is also magic happening in this hospital: patients tend to recover soon from their illnesses. “Because they do not have to worry about money and can be treated at the hospital as long as they want, patients are more positive and stabilize easily,” says Doctor Lee Wan-joo (63), the director of the hospital.
Just like Lee says, the patients at the hospital seem at ease. Carlos Gerardo (31) from
Although he works over 12 hours a day, Deleon hopes to stay in
Unlike Geraldo and Deleon, most of the patients who visit the hospital are Korean Chinese mainly because Guro, where the hospital is located, is a district where many Korean Chinese people work, and most of them are diagnosed with muscular pain or stomach disorders due to the stress from eating different food and dealing with a different culture. People from the same place often share similar symptoms. “Chinese have weak stomachaches, Mongolians have weak kidneys and Russians and Uzbekistanis, who are used to drinking high alcohol content liquor, often suffer from alcohol problems,’’ says Lee based on her experience.
Although everything seems cheerful on the outside, there are many patients with pitiable conditions behind the veil. A letter from one migrant worker was delivered to Doctor Lee today, expressing gratitude on behalf of her friend who is a liver cancer patient in a terminal stage. Although the patient could not receive any medical care, he wanted to thank the hospital staff and donate his body for medical experiments.
Nowadays, the crackdowns on illegal migrant workers are not harsh compared to the past; however, from time to time, migrant workers were arrested on their way out of the hospital.
Lee, who believes that volunteering is a true blessing, hopes to establish a hospital near Ansan, where there are many migrant workers. “Some workers cannot visit the hospital because it is too far from where they are staying. And taking a day off to visit the hospital would mean that they would not be receiving their daily payment,” says Lee. “By establishing a branch hospital I hope more people can receive medical treatment.”