Fukushima hospital finds temporary replacement after only doctor dies

by Tomoko Otake

Staff Writer

A Fukushima hospital that suddenly found itself in crisis following the death last month of its only full-time doctor has found a temporary replacement for late director Hideo Takano.

Yujiro Nakayama, a 36-year-old surgeon at Komagome Hospital in Tokyo, will assume the full-time director position at the private Takano Hospital in the town of Hirono, Fukushima Prefecture, from Feb. 1 through the end of March.

But the hospital, which has been the only one operating in the Futaba region of the prefecture since the March 11, 2011, nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 plant, still needs to find a full-time doctor from April 1, when Nakayama starts working at another hospital in the prefecture, according to Dr. Akihiko Ozaki, a member of a group of doctors and town officials set up to save the hospital.

Takano, an 81-year-old psychiatrist known for his tireless devotion to his work, died in a fire at his home on the hospital grounds on Dec. 30, leaving 100 inpatients, many of them elderly or bedridden, in limbo.

Meanwhile, the crowdfunding campaign started by the town Monday to help finance costs involved in inviting volunteer doctors to fill Takano’s shifts, had collected more than ¥5 million as of Thursday afternoon, twice the original target of ¥2.5 million.

“We are honestly surprised at the outpouring of support,” Ozaki said. “I think it shows a lot of people are worried about the hospital and feel that they want to express their support.”

The hospital has secured the services of more than 30 volunteer doctors from across the country to carry out Takano’s duties through the end of March.

The donations will be used to cover transportation and accommodation costs for the doctors, who will not receive any salary, as well as to finance the town’s other medical needs, Ozaki said.

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