“We will be the second line of defense” — doctors of private clinics ready to help the state

Private clinics have responded to Putin's order to help state hospitals, but they are asking for reciprocal support

“We will be the second line of defense” — doctors of private clinics ready to help the state
Photo: ffoms.ru

If necessary, we are ready to help state hospitals — this is how the heads of Kazan clinics commented on the words of the president of Russia, who has instructed to use all the reserves of medicine, including private medicine, in the fight against coronavirus. Private doctors promise to provide their space for the deployment of beds, laboratories and high-precision equipment for research, which is now idle — because of the self-isolation regime, they are forbidden to conduct scheduled patient appointments. Although these medical facilities could do tests for coronavirus, take blood for antibodies to COVID-19 and provide other medical services. The owners of clinics interviewed by Realnoe Vremya are complaining only about one thing — that they are incurring serious losses and doing nothing when they could help contain the spread of the virus.

All lab technicians are in infectious hospital

At a meeting on the sanitary and epidemiological situation in Russia, President Vladimir Putin said that the situation with coronavirus in the country ia not changing for the better. To fight the infection, he called for using all possible resources, including private medicine. The instruction has been published on the Kremlin's website: “To take measures aimed at attracting medical organizations of private healthcare system to provide primary health care to citizens within the framework of the territorial CHI programme.” The government is to submit its proposals by June 1, 2020.

“There are no private clinics in our list of reserve hospitals yet," the ministry of healthcare of Tatarstan told Realnoe Vremya but did not rule out that the issue would be considered if necessary.

We have contacted private clinics in the republic to find out if they are ready to provide such assistance. It turned out that some of them are already working with colleagues from state hospitals.

“We have the paid services department at the infectious diseases hospital. There is almost no one left here, because all laboratory assistants and nurses have been working in its departments and laboratories since the first day of the epidemic on the orders of the chief physician of Naberezhnye Chelny infectious diseases hospital," Zulfiya Zagrieva, the director of Medina centre in Naberezhnye Chelny, told Realnoe Vremya.

There are rooms and equipment, but they themselves are without support

We are always ready to help state clinics and their patients, emphasizes the head of the multi-specialty medical centre Zvezda Artur Urazmanov:

“They should understand how we can be useful. We don't have infectious disease specialists, and we need to retrain the medical staff. There is no in-patient facility either. But if necessary, if we are told, as in other countries, to deploy beds in gyms, we will deploy them, of course, at our base, in ordinary offices. But only if we re allowed. After all, it happens that the ministry of healthcare issues a recommendation order, but Rospotrebnadzor then prohibits it. We have ventilators — we will give them.

At the same time, private multidisciplinary medical clinics themselves are now suffering serious losses — they have not yet been included in the industry of enterprises affected by the pandemic. Although they made an exception for dentists.

“How can dentistry be separated from all medicine?! We have high-precision, technological equipment alone worth 80 million rubles! X-ray equipment, mammographs, diagnostic and medical equipment — Swiss, German, Italian, Dutch ones. We bought it, the warranty period is running, but we can't use the equipment, it is idle," Urazmanov complained. “Where will all the chronic patients go, with heart, urological, gynecological pathology, endocrinology? All clinics have suspended outpatient care.

Lenar Salakhutdinov, the director of Medel multidisciplinary clinic and member of the Public Council of the ministry of healthcare of the Republic of Tatarstan, agrees with his colleague:

“At the moment, private healthcare, as well as all business, is suffering hard times. In this case, the state budget must finance private institutions in the same way as budget institutions, provide the necessary means of protection and laboratory tests. With budget funding, we, as citizens of Russia, are ready to maintain a common defense of healthcare. We have day hospitals, but not twenty-four-hour, in terms of beds, our capacity is not enough. Our clinic has innovative approaches to treatment. In our case, rather, the help may be aimed at stimulating the patient's own immune system.

Salakhutdinov does not exclude that Medel employees can help in the treatment of patients with coronavirus. But he doubts that the state will finance and provide protection for private clinics.

“I communicate with many colleagues, heads of other clinics — almost all private medical institutions are suffering serious losses, and the financial situation is being very difficult. Entrepreneurs who are suffering losses are forced to keep their wages, when in such force majeure situations, money should be allocated to the population from the national welfare fund," stated the head of the institution.

Antibody tests would calm the population

In the treatment and diagnostic centre Tiamed Clinic, as in most private clinics, there are no in-patient facilities or infectious disease specialists. There are therapists, but most of the doctors work in state institutions, they already have a huge load, and it is difficult to attract them additionally.

“Now our laboratory could test people for COVID-19, for antibodies. We could keep track of how immunity was developing in the population," says Director General Oleg Timofeyev. “We, the doctors of private practice, will always be the second line of defense, behind the state doctors. But in order for us to join, certain requirements must be met. Private clinics will not be able to work without serious equipment. There must be contracts with the laboratory. If the state takes maximum care of this, we are ready to re-equip the laboratory specifically. We are ready to carry out blood sampling and diagnostics from next week, so that people do not fear for their health.

By Yekaterina Ablaeva
Tatarstan