Chiba hospital stands out in creaking medical system

by Fumiko Yamaoka

Kyodo News

CHIBA — Nadogaya Hospital in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, is a rarity at a time when other medical institutions are struggling to hire doctors and turning away people in need of emergency treatment.

The private hospital has stuck to its principle of accepting all sick people in need of emergency treatment without fail.

The hospital deals with about 5,200 ambulance deliveries and conducts about 1,600 operations a year.

There have been numerous reports of patients in need of urgent care being refused by more than a dozen hospitals and having to wait in ambulances until finally gaining admission. The rejecting hospitals said the decisions were made because they lacked vacant beds or physicians.

Nadogaya Hospital’s formula for management is to recruit doctors with good pay and maintain close cooperation with other hospitals in Kashiwa, the city where it was established in 1983.

Equipped with 247 beds, it is designated as a “secondary” medical institution designed to receive patients requiring emergency treatment and hospitalization during nighttime hours and holidays. It has 35 full-time and 28 part-time doctors.

Makoto Yamazaki, the 73-year-old founder and chief director of the hospital, said, “We pay them a high salary, comparable to the cost of building a house near the hospital.”

The majority of the surgeons live about five minutes away by car.

The hospital also maintains substantial welfare services for its staff, such as covering the cost of academic meetings or running in the regular marathon in Honolulu, one of Yamazaki’s own ideas.

The hospital’s occupancy rate is high at 94 percent a year. It earns a steady income by accepting sick people at night and during holidays, which results in high compensation points under the national health insurance system.

Deputy Director Kazuaki Takahashi, 54, said there is no need for Nadogaya Hospital alone to complete patients’ treatment, adding that hospitals must do whatever is necessary to build a network within the region.

For instance, Nadogaya Hospital has no department of obstetrics and gynecology but maintains cooperative arrangements with hospitals with obstetrics departments in the area.