Weak, angry and living on benefits: a former hospital worker wants someone to take responsibility It has been a year since Chan Kai-na recovered from Sars, but she says her life will never be the same. The disease has left the 35-year-old so weak that she has to walk with a cane and cannot turn in her bed without her husband's help. She has left her job as an attendant at Sha Tin Hospital, where she contracted the disease, and is living on government payments. 'I cannot accept walking with a cane,' she said yesterday. 'People point at you and wonder whether you have sinned to be in this condition. I consider myself a building about to collapse.' Like many other recovered patients - many of whom have still to regain full health - Ms Chan thinks she could have avoided contracting the disease had the government declared sooner that there was a community outbreak. The hospital she worked at would have given her the protective gear she needed. Now she is asking the courts to decide whether the Hospital Authority and the Department of Health should be held responsible. She is one of 40 people planning to sue the Department of Health, the Hospital Authority, and hospitals where they worked. They accuse the department of failing to quickly trace the contacts of Sars patients, failing to provide enough protective gear for medical workers, and failing to prevent the Amoy Gardens outbreak and the infection of more than 20 people on an Air China flight from Hong Kong to Beijing on March 15 last year. Tim Pang Hung-cheong, patients' rights advocate with the Society for Community Organisation, said the lawsuit had yet to be filed as solicitors were trying to obtain more documents from the health department and the Hospital Authority. Nineteen letters were sent out four months ago, with no response. 'We can see they have a very unco-operative attitude because we have waited a long time for those documents,' Mr Pang said. 'This adds to the families' grievances.' Chan Yi-ling, 42, broke down in tears yesterday as she listened to other patients who had recovered and families of victims who died recount their experiences. Just hearing the word Sars makes her shiver, and regular visits to a psychologist have not helped much. 'I often think about what happened at the hospital. I was afraid that I would go in on two legs and come out on a stretcher,' she said. She and her husband caught Sars after visiting her father-in-law in ward 8A of Prince of Wales Hospital in March last year. Her father-in-law later died. While Chan Yi-ling is back working as a customer service representative, her immune system is still weak. She catches colds easily and last month came down with hand, foot and mouth disease. She stays at home most weekends, disappointing her 10-year-old daughter. 'With my physical state this poor, I am worried that my condition will only get worse,' she said. Chan Kai-na is also pessimistic. 'There are people who have jumped to their death because they don't want to suffer anymore,' she said. 'But what can I do? I cannot even climb up to a window.'