China's doctors urge patients to trust medics again in an effort to raise revenues lost in fighting the outbreak One of Beijing's leading hospitals is urging sick people to trust it again, in a desperate attempt to earn money from non-Sars procedures. Chaoyang Hospital wants the public to overcome its fear of Sars and start visiting doctors again. The hospital's director, Wang Chen, claimed hospitals had been suffering financially because would-be patients were afraid of catching Sars. Compounding the problem, the 1,030-bed, state-owned Chaoyang Hospital had spent a large sum on protective clothing and imported medical equipment to deal with Sars. A grant of 1 million yuan (HK$940,000) from the city government was helping cover salaries for the 1,600 staff, but money for hospital building improvements had run out. 'As hospital director, I care most about [the money] issue,' Mr Wang said. Other Beijing hospitals are battling the same image problem and have also lost money. A member of a city government team set up to give out information about Sars said it was understandable people might fear hospitals. 'You can imagine what you would do if you were sick now,' he said. But Mr Wang said he saw no reason for patients to worry about catching Sars at Chaoyang Hospital. 'We've tried to protect the non-Sars patients. This was an urgent problem. Our level of anxiety here was high, but now it's a safe hospital,' Mr Wang said. However, that was not always the case. From late March through early May, Chaoyang Hospital doctors diagnosed 100 people with Sars out of about 4,000 people who came in with Sars-like symptoms. Its worst case came on March 27, when a taxi driver left traces of Sars in lifts and other areas used by medical staff, 17 of whom caught the virus. A second scare was triggered by the arrival of an obviously infected emergency-room patient, who was quickly transferred before he could infect others. Mr Wang said he had been so worried there were occasions when he only slept for one hour per night, but felt that, considering the rate of infection, the hospital had been lucky. By late April, Chaoyang, like most main hospitals in Beijing, was no longer treating Sars patients. Its fever clinic was examining suspected Sars patients, diagnosing those with the virus and sending them on to special Sars hospitals. 'The city government said, 'We don't care how you do it, we want your hospital's Sars caseload to be zero',' Mr Wang said. 'I'm very proud that we took a short time to control it.' He added: 'I hope China can give its information to the world and the world can learn from China.' Mr Wang cautioned people against assuming Sars had passed, because the virus mutated and could strike without causing a high fever. 'I think Beijing people are too relaxed now,' he said.