Hospital fires: what must change in Romania?
Five Covid patients died in a fire in a Bucharest hospital last Friday. Only last November another ten people perished in a hospital fire. In December, the Ministry of the Interior presented a report listing more than 1,900 deficiencies in Romanian hospitals. Commentators discuss what measures are need to address the problem of dilapidated hospitals.
There is an alternative
Romania needs either new hospital buildings or collaboration with the private health sector, Krónika argues:
“The hospital fires are the result of an infrastructure that has been neglected for many decades. ... Many modern hospitals financed with private capital have been built throughout the country. If the state is incapable of investing on its own, it should promote the private sector by financing the treatments offered at these hospitals. ... While private clinics, private schools or restaurants need to secure many different permits to be allowed to operate, state-run hospitals are allowed to operate under extremely dangerous conditions because, according to the authorities, there is no alternative. But there is.”
Behaviour patterns as decrepit as the hospitals
The problem isn't just the infrastructure but also the hospital managers' mentality, writes Răzvan Chiruţă in Newsweek România:
“New hospitals will be built in vain if the only thing their managers care about is lining their pockets whenever any piece of equipment is purchased, no matter how small. ... New hospitals would be in vain if the gods of medicine bring in their followers, and good doctors who refuse to submit to the 'Professor' are driven abroad. Impeccable rooms will be in vain if the medical staff doesn't wash their hands or it they pop down to grab a pretzel on the street corner wearing their special medical clothing.”
Checks but no results
November's hospital fire set in motion the usual delaying tactics in Romania, writes journalist Paul Stan in Adevărul:
“After the Piatra Neamţ tragedy last year, the government declared that it would carry out checks in all hospitals, but to this day we still don't know what the checks revealed, in which hospitals irregularities were uncovered, what sanctions were imposed and - more crucially - what has been done to solve the problems. In our country, every tragedy, every serious incident, every major irregularity, every glaring case of corruption, every blatant incompetence is followed by control procedures and endless reviews that not only do nothing to solve the problems but actually prolong the toxic conditions.”
Demolish and rebuild!
Calls for a reform of the healthcare system are misguided, writes Florin Negruțiu in republica.ro:
“We already have reforms, what we need now is hospitals. The Matei Balș hospital was built back in 1953! It's now 68 years old. The guarantee period for the entire hospital infrastructure, which was either set up by the communists or dates back to the interwar period, has long since expired. Both physically and morally it's on its last legs. It can't be renovated, it must be demolished and rebuilt - in compliance with the patient safety standards that apply in 2021 and not those of 1953. It is a threat to the lives of doctors and patients.”