Misleading statements about the OIST Clinic published in the press
On 13 March 2019, the Okinawa Times published an article making two main claims: First, in the way it is expressed it suggests to general readers that OIST had illegally suspended the operation of its clinic beyond the maximum time of one year that is typically allowed for this type of closure under the relevant law. The newspaper article reported the fact that OIST opened its clinic in August 2015 and stated that OIST suspended clinic operations in August 2017 until OIST had submitted a report of resumption of the operations of the clinic in October 2018. Second, the article also stated the fact that a new doctor arrived in October 2018 and OIST submitted the report describing the resumption of the clinic operations to the Okinawa Prefectural Chubu Public Health Center (OPCPHC). However, the newspaper claims the OIST clinic continued to be closed up until the time of writing of the newspaper article, which it states is inconsistent with the report OIST submitted to the OPCPHC.
These statements are incorrect.
(i) The clinic was established on 21 August 2015. The operations of the clinic were suspended on 31 July 2017 when the former doctor left OIST. However, OIST resumed the services of its clinic on 1 October 2018 when a new doctor joined OIST. The OPCPHC was notified of the resumption of the operation of the clinic on 1 October by OIST’s report which was submitted on October 17 with the justification that OIST had hired a replacement doctor.
The following points should be noted: The OPCPHC had agreed to the suspension of the operations of OIST’s clinic beyond 1 year in accordance with the relevant law. A letter was submitted in advance to the OPCPHC stating that a new doctor had been selected and would be appointed on 1 October 2018. In response to that, the OPCPHC accepted the extension as there was a justifiable reason to extend its suspension beyond the statutory period of 1 year.
(ii) Since the arrival of a new doctor, the clinic has been preparing for services that involve scheduled appointments that will enable consultations with the doctor for minor conditions. Meanwhile, a doctor has been providing the limited medical treatment at the clinic, which is deemed as resumption of the clinic under the relevant law.
To confirm the status of the OIST Clinic, representatives of the OPCPHC and the Okinawan Prefectural Government Medical Policy Division visited OIST on 14 March 2019. The OPCPHC confirmed that the inspection concluded that the clinic reopened properly and that medical treatment was being performed. This means it is confirmed that the current OIST clinic operation is consistent with OIST’s report of the resumption of the clinic.
OIST deeply regrets the publication of inaccurate and misleading comments about the OIST Clinic that were published by the Okinawa Times on 13 March.
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