Thursday, June 26, 2003

Three days and 2 nights at Yerevan Children's Hospital #3

A few days ago, Seta's (Monte Melkonian's widdow) son woke-up vomiting and was not able to keep down anything we gave him.

She called a friend that told her to take him to the hospital to have him checked just to be on the safe side.

We took him to children's hospital #3, which is a government run hospital.

They checked him and decided that his stomach should be flushed as he most probably had some kind of intestinal virus.

After flushing his stomach, they said that he had a high fever and we should stay overnight for them to monitor his condition.

Next thing I knew we were in a room with 2 beds and I was sent off to the pharmacy with a list of things needed.

I wont get into all the details of what Seta's son was sick from, as for this log it's not that important and will make this a very long log.

What I think is important is the room and the structure of the staff.

Like I said, the room had 2 beds, one being a child's bed and the other for the parent.

The walls were last painted I don't know when, were cracked, pealing and from the common bathroom (which I will spare those that eat while reading our logs) had caused one of the walls in our room a good deal of mold and moisture damage. The whole thing was very depressing.

The first night in the hospital was very difficult as her son was not use to having an IV in his arm and one of us had to stay awake so every time he moved, he did not pinch the IV tube.

I had the opportunity to talk to some of the staff and parents of the children being treated there about the hospital and their experience.

What I learned was that this hospital is on the list of hospitals to be privatized and it looks like the head doctor or manager is in the process of privatizing.

I learned that the staff has not been paid for years their salaries, though they sign as if they are receiving a sum from the government for their work, thus this was suppose to be a free to the public hospital. It seems that the head doctor and/or director has been getting the above mention money for himself and I would guess the minister of health also gets a cut of it (a whole other story).

The staff are paid by those in need of their services, kind of like a fancy restaurant that does not pay any salary and the waiting staff makes their money from tips only. Though you pay an admittance fee of $10, you also pay "gifts" to everyone from the cleaning staff on up.

As for those in need of medical care, many of them seem to come only after their children have been sick for some time with something minor, since they could not afford to have them treated at that time, are now left with no choice but bring their child in when their child's life is in danger and then they really pay.

As for the condition of the rooms and facility, all I can say is that if it was in the West, the health department would close it down and toss the administrative staff in jail (which come to think of it may be an appropriate punishment in this case too).

The staff that come in and out of the room, many times come in without washing their hands, thus risk transferring illness from one room to another. The water situation is not all that good either, so this does not help matters much.

We had figured that we would only stay for the night and then the following afternoon, check out.

The following afternoon, Seta's son seemed to be worse and also looked somewhat depressed. I would guess this was from the condition of the room and the crying children we had to listen to all night long (the walls are paper thin), not to mention one of the nurses that really should not be allowed to deal with children, but would guess that she paid some big bribe to get her job or knows someone in the administration.

By the time we figured out that Seta's son was not getting better, we started to call around to find out who could provide us with home-care or some other option.

Unfortunately, we were not able to find anyone that night to help us out and felt that since the fever was still high, we should stay one more night, but said that irregardless of what happens tomorrow, we are not staying another day in this hospital.

The night did not go all that smooth and after forcing liquids and bringing down the fever, Seta decided that she had had enough and we would leave that morning.

She spoke with the doctor and told her that we would leave that day and when I went into the doctor's room to get yogurt from the refrigerator, the doctor and a few staff members told me that I should talk Seta into staying longer as they were just getting control of the virus.

I'm sure they were expecting me to tell them they were right and I would talk to her, but instead I guess I too had had enough and laid into to them about the deplorable condition of the rooms and how the walls were a breeding-ground for infection and could never be cleaned. I said I feel very sorry for the people who have children that get sick and make the mistake of coming to this kind of hospital.

One of the nurses looked to me and said that it was bad and they needed a sponsor to fix it up.

I turned to her and told her that there should be no need for a sponsor since the head doctor is in the process of privatizing the hospital and this is good as then he can fix it up and really make it the business he has always been dreaming of. As I was saying this, the lead doctor of that department walked in and everyone got very quiet.

I returned to the room and was followed in by the doctor treating Seta's son who said that there is a deluxe room that had just been vacated and took us to see it, telling us that she can have the cleaning staff come in and sanitize it.

It did look quite nice and had a very clean bathroom, but the decision had been made and later that afternoon we checked out and took her son home.

So how is he doing? Well he is doing great and as soon as we got home, he wanted to eat. It seems that in the hospital he lost his appetite and all those very foreign sounds were just too much for him. He has no fever and seems much more happy now.

As for the hospital goes and hospitals in general here in Armenia and probably in the former USSR, they themselves are in critical condition.

Oh and the "gifts" I wont even get into right now as I'm now working on my next investigation which will be on the medical industry in Armenia and the good and bad side of it.

It's been a very long 3 days and 2 night and I think it's now time to get some sleep.

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