Have we done all we could? Has the Ministry? We all know the answer to that question
1. In 2 hours, 8 emergency hospitals in Bucharest (only two of which specialized in burn victims) received more than 180 victims. The doctors got together, worked in an extraordinary manner, and did the impossible to save them, working as much as 24 hours at a time.
2. Meanwhile, Romania never stopped moving. Accidents, heart attacks and traumas kept happening, like any other day, and dozens more victims got to the ERs of these hospitals… someone had to attend to those, as well.
3. Of the more than 180 victims, more than half were critical, with high-degree skin burns and, more importantly, severe burns of the respiratory tract and lungs. Anywhere in this world, patients with severe burns of the respiratory tract and lungs have small chances of survival, maybe very small ones, but they ONLY have a shot if the department where they‘re admitted has artificial lungs that can take over the breathing function. Burned respiratory tracts mean infections, every time, and every breath of air they take, either naturally or artificially, brings in more germs. In a normal situation, these germs would be harmless, but in this case, they create a serious septic risk. In addition, without sterile rooms, or at least isolation rooms, the risk of septicemia is very high. We can say for sure that NONE of the 8 hospitals had artificial lungs. As for isolation rooms, there may be 2 or 3 of them at the Burnt Victim Hospital and at Grigore Alexandrescu, but that’s all.
Only one artificial lung was brought from Timișoara for a patient, and that was only because the company she worked for cared enough! The other unlucky ones passed away… Maybe they would have done so either way, but we know we didn’t do everything we could for them.
4. Doctors who don’t usually treat burn victims were suddenly in a situation where they had to deal with dozens of victims, for tens of hours in a row, until exhaustion, with no protocols and without the minimal equipment necessary. They were the first people to be sacrificed, along with their patients.
5. Just so you understand that the Ministry of Health is aware this pathology is special and can’t be treated in just any place, the Ministry website includes a «Guide for the immediate transfer of patients to burn victim centers». The managers of the 8 hospitals and all the great professors and specialists also knew. Instead, they chose to present us with information that reminded us of the communist era: We have everything we need! We don’t need a thing!
6. No country in the world could have dealt with such a situation (maybe with the exception of the U.S. and Israel) without asking for help.
7. So what happened? The Ministry of Health reassured us that we have the same treatment conditions as Germany, when that is obviously not true. We don’t have isolation rooms, sterile rooms with a controlled environment or artificial lungs! The staff can’t keep watch forever, because they risk getting burned out. The Ministry didn’t ask for help from other countries when the stable patients could have been transported safely and the critical ones still had a shot (yes, transporting them was a major risk, but with no sterile rooms with a controlled environment, their chances were completely wiped out). They didn’t even ask for help from the other specialized clinics in the country, which could have offered support to the doctors in Bucharest. Instead, they preferred to put immense pressure on the latter, who were already exhausted after the first night and the day after that. Dressing the wounds of a severely burned patient can take a while, especially since it’s done under general anesthesia, as the pain is excruciating. Besides, these 8 emergency hospitals are usually overworked as it is… it’s not like the doctors there just sit around doing nothing and waiting for such a situation.
8. Any country would have asked for support if they’d had 180 burn victims all of a sudden! We didn’t! Out of an absurd ego, a petty interest of looking good or who knows what other irrational reason.
WE didn’t do all we could because WE were the ones who let them lie and because WE didn’t ask them to do more from the very first day! We said nothing! We only came to our senses when it was already too late for some of them.
9. We’re sure that, when things settle down and the good, devoted doctors (the ones who worked until exhaustion and who could have gone abroad for thousands of Euros, but chose to stay here, hoping that things will get better) will speak in public, they’ll be able to tell us what they went through, what they go through every day, what conditions they work in and how they’re only allowed to save lives on a ration. They won’t tell us about the small salaries, because they don’t have to. That, we all know!
10. Until that day, we can’t be silent! Because tomorrow it can happen again. Because tomorrow it can happen to us or, even worse, to our children.
Our silence is even more guilt-worthy than their lie!
Guilty of not having done everything in our power,
Oana Gheorghiu and Carmen Uscatu
P.S.: While we were writing this, the doctors of the Doctors’ Alliance went public with their opinion on the #Colectiv crisis. Thank you!