Evacuation of hospital for hosting COVID-19 patients stirs political tensions in Romania
The emergency evacuation of a hospital in Bucharest to make room for COVID-19 patients stirred not only the patients' discontent but also criticism from opposition Social Democrats and tensions within the ruling coalition.
Prime minister Florin Citu's statements were interpreted by the media as reflecting his expectations for the resignation of health minister Vlad Voiculescu. "It's about honor here. Let's see who still has honor," PM Citu told journalists, Digi24 reported.
As no intensive care bed was available in Bucharest and after an increasing number of patients was sent to other hospitals in the country (sometimes as far as to Iasi in the northeastern part of the country), the head of the emergency services, Raed Arafat, decided on Friday, April 9, to evacuate Foisor Orthopedic Hospital in central Bucharest and use it for COVID-19 patients.
The hospital, under the coordination of the Bucharest municipality, has 21 intensive care beds and another 200 beds where patients can be provided with oxygen.
The hospital's patients were moved to other medical units late on Friday, April 9. The hospital's management reportedly didn't cooperate in the beginning. Many of the patients were transferred on stretchers or in strollers because they could not move independently.
The secretary of state within the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Raed Arafat, declared, on Friday evening, on Antena 3, that "any hour counts," according to G4media.ro.
Meanwhile, the PSD deputy Alexandru Rafila, Romania's representative at the World Health Organization, declared that the transfers failed to take into account the opinions of the medical body, and the procedure was "dangerous."
Not only the opposition criticized the Government for the management of the situation. A vice-president of the National Liberal Party, Ben-Oni Ardelean, said that he would ask his party's leadership to support the dismissal of health minister Vlad Voiculescu.
So far, prime minister Florin Citu and minister Voiculescu have repeatedly denied the rumors about frequent tensions between the minister of the reformist platform USR-PLUS and the senior ruling party, the National Liberal Party (PNL). The internal strategies within PNL before the congress where the party will elect the new leader complicate the already tense relationships among the ruling coalition's members.
(Photo source: Inquam Photos/Sabin Cirstoveanu)