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Monday, September 18, 2006

That Form of Torture they Call the Russian Hospital


Global Voices has a harrowing account of a mother's struggle to nurse her son back to health at a Russian hospital. Here is an extract:

A room for five people, one bed’s empty. Gloomy men of various ages lie either with broken legs suspended or simply on their backs. In the room for those who can’t move, there’s no bell to summon the personnel. The door is wide open and this is understandable. First, to yell and be heard in case something happens (this, I guess, is problematic, however - the post is far away and the nurses’ room is all the way around the corner); second, it works like air conditioning. No way to open the window - because they can’t move. And because one bed is underneath the window and the person there can catch a cold.

Mityay has just recovered from a severe cold, he has running nose and cough, and it hurts him to cough. I went to ask the nurse for some nasal drops and [a cough medicine]. I was ready to pay for this “service.” But they don’t have any drops or syrups. They also don’t have any camphora alcohol to prevent bedsores. But I’ve got it with me. As well as a cup, a spoon, toilet paper (thank God, they have sheets - in the children’s hospital […] they once made us bring that, too).

In the Soviet time, I was an in-patient at the traumatology department […]. In general, the hospital was no better. A drunk doctor, lazy nurses. In our room for people who couldn’t move, an old woman with a broken hip died - she had bedsores, she rarely had visitors, it smelled bad in the room. The old woman lied dead for a few hours before my classmates came to visit me and went looking for the staff. I wanted to smoke very much, and when I did light up under the blanket, the other old women said, “Go on smoking, daughter, let there be human smell in here at least…”

You can see the horrible truth about Russian hospitals by clicking here, where a number of photographs of the son's room and the hospital exterior are to be found. Is this a G-8 country flush with oil revenues? You tell La Russophobe.

1 comment:

Viktoriya said...

The healthcare in the present day Russia is nonexistent. I abhor the current criminal KGB dictatorship, and particularly painful for me is the issue of the complete collapse of the healthcare system under this regime. Two years ago my elderly mother had a misfortune to be taken to the Moscow City Hospital No 7. They operated her and after the operation left her in a general ward without ANY medical attention or ANY care whatsoever. She was just left to die. Later it became clear that this was the hospital’s policy towards the elderly. She would have been better off if they had put her out in a street as then perhaps some kind soul would have given her some water at least. But in the hospital we, her relatives, and she were considered just a terrible nuisance – how dared we to burden them with somebody so old – she was 81.

My mother, [having read in your Blog’s advice by Global Voices I decided to withdraw her real name - unfortunately], was a talented doctor (neurologist) who dedicated her whole life to serving people for a pittance (As you know doctors and teachers were notoriously badly paid in the Soviet Union). Unfortunately, she retained faith in the health system till the end, and agreed to go to hospital although for me from the previous experiences it was clear that in Russia nobody treats old people. Two years ago she was 81 (which for Russian standards is very old); still she was quite strong for her age. Because of severe pain in her legs we had to call an ambulance, they suggested she should go to hospital.

It was the beginning of a terrible ordeal. Many hospitals refused to take her because of her age and then one hospital, very far from our place agreed. It was the Moscow City Hospital No 7, which turned out to be a hell-hole, a real stuff of horror films where so called “doctors” are spooky shape-shifters, murderers in white coats and the whole hospital is a big Murder Factory where the richest department is the mortuary. My mum died within 2 days after a botched operation, wrong medication, complete lack of post-operative care or support, and total neglect by the staff. It was an ultimate nightmare for me and my children to see the suffering of the loved one and to be absolutely helpless.

I am sure that even animals get more attention in vet clinics. To leave a person in agony, bleeding without any medical attention or any support whatsoever in a crammed general ward because she was simply ‘too old’ to occupy a bed in an intensive care – surely it would have been better to send her back home where we could have organized at least glucose and oxygen. In the anguish which is hard to describe I pleaded, demanded, shouted at the doctors, rushed from ward to ward, and offered money – all in vain. The doctor on duty in the ward was stone-faced and played computer games in her office. The other doctors who I managed to entice to come to my mother’s bed were all either drugged or drunk or both.

What a terrible tragic irony that my mother who was a ‘real’ doctor should die such a terrible death effectively murdered by the healthcare system she had served so selflessly. At the time I made inquiries and found out that alternative private sector hospitals would have cost several thousand dollars which we simply did not have.

Now, my mother’s death is just a small example of the abyss of desperation of the majority of the Russians. If it is a Moscow hospital one can imagine what it is like in smaller towns and villages of Russia. People, young and old are simply dying out like flies.

At the same time Russia is one of the richest states in the world and the Kremlin gangsters are spending billions on arms. In 2001 the defence budget was 140 billion roubles, today it stands at 870 billion (£16.7 billion) – six fold increase, and the fastest in Russia’s peacetime history. Well, the KGB mafia and their henchmen already have enough money to make sure that for a few generations they will never loose their nearest and dearest under the same circumstances as we lost our mother and grandmother.

Is it a surprising fact then why I and my children are Russophobes and will never forgive neither the Russian government nor the Russian people who are in my view ultimately responsible for their own fate?