“Here, people are not healing, they are just getting sicker.” This is an expression that stuck in my mind during a week I spent at the University Clinical Center of Kosovo (QKUK). It is, unfortunately, an expression that has some truth to it and that reflects my experiences there.
As soon as I entered the room where a relative of mine was staying, I saw that it was overcrowded, both with beds and relatives of other patients. It seemed that there were more beds that the room could fit. Each patient had a family member present serving as a caregiver and the space was getting tight. This lack of space was even more concerning given that we are in a pandemic.
I sat on the corner of the bed where my relative was lying because there was no other place for me to put myself. Sitting there on the corner, I felt as if I was suddenly noticing all the issues institutional neglect had swept into another corner.
A relative of one of the patients was worried. She had made numerous requests to the hospital about her relative but they were all ignored. She complained that she had waited for days. I experienced this waiting as well. After we received news that our relative needed blood transfusions, we addressed the matter to the person in charge. He told us to wait 20 minutes. We waited. After 20 minutes, no one showed up.
I went to ask him what was going on and he told me to wait, again. The initial 20 minutes turned into four hours. A four-hour wait in such a situation was difficult to go through, but we had no other option.
I stayed there for a week. My relative needed a CT scan. For this we waited not four hours, but for two days. We were told the machine was not working.
As we waited, I noticed dirt and grime everywhere. There was no toilet paper, detergent or ways to maintain basic hygiene, so we were forced to provide our own material. Accessing the necessary medicines was also difficult. Here I was, becoming just another person on the list of family members and patients complaining about the miserable conditions at QKUK.
Some healthy solutions
My experience at QKUK was not an isolated case. From my own observations at the hospital to the frequent news about patients and relatives complaining about not receiving proper services, it’s clear that this is an ongoing problem.
We need a greater commitment from the Ministry of Health and the government to solve this problem. Perhaps, if only there were more frequent visits, they would see how the patients are treated and the subpar conditions the professional medical teams are forced to work in. Access to health services is fundamental because there can be no development without good health.