Dying heart patients used to attract budget funds

Another medical scandal is gathering pace in Russia. Yan Gabinsky, the director of the Ural Institute of Cardiology, addressed the Russian media pleading for help. According to Gabinsky, the institute will have to suspend open heart surgeries in two or three weeks due to underfunding.

Specialists of the institute have already restricted the number of surgeries. However, up to 200 heart patients are waiting for their turn to be operated on. Some of them have been assigned to other clinics. Nine patients have already died waiting for treatment.

The situation is very serious indeed, Gabinsky said. Instead of 50 million rubles, which the institute was supposed to receive either from the regional budget or from the healthcare ministry, the institute received only 12 million. As a result, the organization could not purchase expendable materials. The situation became critical in May of this year.

"We informed the Healthcare Ministry in the region about the situation from the very beginning. Unfortunately, we received nothing from them in three or four months," Gabinsky told reporters.

If the situation does not improve, the institute will no longer be able to perform urgent operations.

"If we have a patient with a cardiac accident, who requires an urgent surgery, we may not have such a possibility. There are many patients in other hospitals too. In the regional hospital, there are nearly 90 heart patients waiting for their surgery. We have state-of-the-art equipment, but we are unable to operate. This is ridiculous," the director of the institute said.

Gabinsky's remarks raised many eyebrows in Russia. The director of the Ural Institute of Cardiology surprised many, if not all, Russian cardiologists.

"The coronary artery bypass grafting operation requires preliminary preparations. It has to be scheduled and prepared for, it cannot be performed otherwise," Yuri Buziashvili, deputy director of Bakulev's Institute of Cardiovascular Surgery said.

According to him, ischemic heart disease patients may die a day before surgery, but only because the disease is unpredictable. It has nothing to do with the funding.

"Why did it happen in the Sverdlovsk region? Nine patients died? The situation is possible, and patients may wait for months to be operated on. But the trouble is not about the funding, it's about something else," Buziashvili said.

Konstantin Shestakov, the press secretary of the Healthcare Ministry of the Sverdlovsk region, said that in Western countries patients may wait for two years to receive such an operation.

"The Ural Institute of Cardiology is not the only place where heart patients can be operated on urgently. This is not the only hospital in the region that performs coronary artery bypass grafting operations. The central clinical hospital can do the same too. Less than ten percent of all coronary artery bypass grafting surgeries are considered urgent. We have all conditions available for emergency care," Shestakov said.

Officials representing the Healthcare Ministry promised to look into the matter of the Ural Institute of Cardiology. They even promised to compensate all the losses for the clinic. The ministry paid special attention to the information about the death of nine patients. Why were those people left in the clinic where they could not receive help?

It appears that the administration of the Ural Institute of Cardiology was hoping to solve problems with funding at the expense of scary stories distributed in mass media. The general public easily falls for such medical stories because everyone is afraid of finding themselves in this situation when they may not receive medical care.

The governor of the region already said that the work of the institute must be put back to normal as soon as possible. Well, doctors are supposed to help people, they are not supposed to launch PR campaigns.

Yulia Noskina


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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov