Town near Fukushima No. 1 raising funds to bring in doctors for lone hospital’s 100 patients

Staff Report

The town of Hirono, Fukushima Prefecture, whose only hospital is in crisis following the death last month of its sole full-time doctor, has launched a crowdfunding campaign to solicit donations from the public.

Hideo Takano, the 81-year-old director of the private hospital, died in a fire at his home on the hospital grounds on Dec. 30, leaving 100 inpatients in limbo.

It is the only hospital operating in the region of Futaba, which hosts the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. The other five hospitals in the area shut down in the wake of the March 2011 quake, tsunami and nuclear disasters.

The crowdfunding campaign (readyfor.jp/projects/hirono-med) was started Monday with a goal of ¥2.5 million to help finance the town’s cost of inviting volunteer doctors to fulfill Takano’s duties through the end of March.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the total had already exceeded ¥3 million.

The money will be used to cover the transportation and accommodations costs of the otherwise unpaid volunteers.

So far, more than 30 doctors from across the country have offered to help. Donations can be made starting from ¥3,000 and they are partially tax-deductible, as they use the furusato nozei (hometown tax donation) system, which allows taxpayers to divert tax payments to municipalities of their choice.