Only three of the 435 hospitals in Romania match the European standard.
Beds covered with plastic bags, medicine only, if you bribe the nurse - a visit to one of the most modern hospitals of Bucharest
"A bandage? Why do you want an additional bandage? Only the doctors have bandages. You may have tape", nags the nurse. "Yes, please give me tape", the patient answers, a white-haired man in his seventies. About three-quarters of his right foot have been amputated some days ago. the stump is wrapped with a gauze bandage. At the bottom, where before was the sole of his foot, the bandage is black because of the dirt on the floor. For crutches or wheelchairs you look in vain here. In the small room on the third floor of one of the most modern hospitals of Bucharest, of the emergency hospital Floreasca, the smell of urine stings the nose. Three steel tube beds are jammed together in the room which is about 12 square meters. An additional folding bed on shaky legs in between, covered with black plastic bags. The headrest pads are in plastic bags, the old army blankets in dirty covers, the mattresses are moist of blood and urine - there are no bedpans and the bedding is not changed.
Hardly a week goes by without new sacrifices of the Romanian health care system: dead due to lacking hygiene in bankrupt hospitals, closed surgeries, underpaid doctors and caregivers and the ubiquitous corruption.Indeed the conservative government had promised some months ago to not introduce new charges, nevertheless an increase of health insurance contributions is at issue now. If the government accedes to the request of the National Health Insurance (CNAS), it could amount to even more than three percent.
At the bottom of Europe's scale
According to surveys of Eurostat, the statistical agency of the European Union, Romania with its 22 million inhabitants is behind Bulgaria at the bottom of Europe's scale concerning expenses for its health system. Currently four million employees pay for the health insurance of almost twelve million people and the number of contributors keeps on decreasing.Only three of the 435 hospitals in Romania match the European standard. It is normal that patients have to bring their own medicine, not to mention clean clothing and bedding. In some hospitals the patients do not get either cutlery or cups, it is not uncommon that they do not get any meals. This year thousands of patients have died of infections they have picked up during their stay in hospital. Doctors and medical staff are overworked and underpaid: more than 6,500 doctors have left the country since the beginning of the year. The reason: wages abroad are eight to ten times higher than in Romania. A doctor who does not want to read her name in the paper says: "I studied four years, for six years I was assistant doctor, today fully qualified I earn 300 Euro per month. How can I feed my family on that?
Bribe for every movement
Often the cheapest material is used: broken and recently operated arms and legs are splinted with empty plastic bottles and bandages. A half-liter juice bottle filled with ice has to serve as cooling. For nearly every movement bribe money is expected: About ten Lei (about 2.20 Euro) a recently operated has to pay for an infusion with antibiotics - his wife has to hang it on the pole.
An orderly comes for a patient of the vascular surgery ward on the third floor. His appearance is hardly different from the patient: the same shabby blue flannel trousers, an old worn out bath robe over it. The old man with the partly amputated foot limps after the carer, while the ward nurse brings supper: mashed potatoes, a piece of a sausage and two slices of white bread. Without cutlery. (derStandard.at, 02.11.2010)
Please read Father Don Demidoff's report on his own experiences