Hospital blaze kills four newborns
BUCHAREST, Romania — A fourth baby died yesterday and seven remained in critical condition following a fire at a maternity hospital that Health Minister Attila Cseke called “one of the darkest tragedies’’ in Romania’s health system.
Authorities launched an investigation to determine the cause of the blaze late Monday at Giulesti maternity hospital, which forced the evacuation of dozens of babies and women — some in labor. The accident in Bucharest provoked a wave of public indignation, throwing light on Romania’s poorly funded and understaffed health system.
Thousands of doctors have left Romania in recent years for better-paid jobs abroad. Hospitals are understaffed and cannot hire, as the government battles a sharp economic downturn and tries to reduce the budget deficit.
Reports of hospital patients who have to buy bandages, medicines, and syringes abound in the Romanian media. Even some doctors concede they lack such basic materials as surgical thread and cannot perform surgery unless the patients buy it.
Romanian media reported the fire may have been caused by a malfunctioning air conditioner.