Prime Minister Florin Citu promised EU investment in the country’s dilapidated health system and ordered that a hospital manager be fired as anger grew in Romania over the third deadly hospital fire in less than a year.
Seven died Friday morning after a fire broke out at an intensive care ward treating Covid-19 patients in the Black Sea port of Constanta.
President Klaus Iohannis earlier echoed public anger at yet another deadly fire at a Covid-19 ward. He said he was “horrified” by the latest blaze and said the „state had failed in its… mission to protect its citizens.”
Video footage showed patients jumping out of windows from the hospital’s lower floors. Firefighters carried people out.
Anguished relatives arrived at the Infectious Diseases Hospital in Constanta demanding an explanation. One woman said: “Is it possible that people are burned alive like rats?”
Manager Stela Halichidis was criticized for her poor response to the latest tragedy involving Covid-19 patients.
She initially refused to speak to reporters and then said she felt unwell, asking them: “Do you want me to die?”
There were contradictory reports about the number of deaths, which the government revised down to seven from an initial nine, two hours after the blaze.
Premier Citu later said he’d asked Constanta mayor which manages the hospital to dismiss the manager. He also fired the head of the National Agency of Quality Health Management.
“He hasn’t completed a single assessment on hospitals,” he said.
“ It’s completely unacceptable for such things to happen in Romanian hospitals. It’s a reality we are trying to fix this year after 30 years in which nothing was done.”
In February, four died in a fire at a Covid-19 hospital in Bucharest. Ten people people died in an intensive care unit in Piatra Neamt in northeast Romania in November 2020.
The premier promised that money from the EU recovery fund would be invested in upgrading hospitals.
“There needs to be a modern infrastructure in hospitals that can cope with any situation,” he said. “I’ve ordered an inquiry from the health ministry about how beds are being prepared in ICU in hospitals for the fourth wave.” He said results would be published by Monday.
Romania’s health care system is plagued by corruption, bureaucracy and politicized management. Romania spends among the least of his GDP on health across the bloc.