12 days in a Baku rehabilitation center
Sanatorium treatment in Azerbaijan
There are groups in Azerbaijan who are entitled to spa treatment from time to time. These include disabled people from the first and second Karabakh wars, families of martyrs, participants in the clean-up of the consequences of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster, disabled people under the age of 18, disabled people as a result of an accident at work and an occupational disease, children deprived of parental care, etc.
The author of this article observed and recorded from his own experience how the service goes from start to finish.
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“Wait 7 days without a year to be treated in Naftalan”
As a citizen, if you want to use the services provided in sanatorium-resort or rehabilitation centers, you must wait at least 3 months in advance at the medical and social expert commission at the place of registration in the regions, and at DOST centers in Baku. However, it is often said that places are limited, anda place in line is issued after 6 months.
The last time I, as a disabled person of group II, applied to one of the rehabilitation centers operating in Naftalan was on November 17, 2022. In response, they said that all the places are occupied, the system shows that it is possible to get a place in line for the next date in the Naftalan sanatorium and rehabilitation centers on November 10, 2023.
I said maybe then in Lankaran; it didn’t work out, maybe in Sheki; it didn’t work out either. The nearest date was found at the Republican Rehabilitation Center in Baku: May 22, 2023… about 8 months later. “Thank you for that,” I said and agreed.
Since the date of my admission to the center was approaching, I was busy collecting documents. Copy of my ID card, COVID-19 vaccination information, lung x-ray… While I was arguing with the staff of the Gazakh Regional Central Hospital to get the results of the x-ray, the phone rang:
“Hello. Is this Hikmet muallim?” “Yes!” “Your admission date to the Republican Rehabilitation Center is listed as May 22, 2023. Since there are so many patients we have to see on the same day, can we see you on the 26th?”
It was necessary to wait 8 months, and 4 more days were added. In fact, since I was looking for money for the trip, these changes were in my favor, and I agreed.
A few days later, another call came from the same number: “Hello. Is this Hikmet muallim?” “Yes!” “We were supposed to see you on the 26th…” Long story short… It turned out that the other patients left the center earlier than expected, and they didn’t want to make me wait any longer. By that time I had already received disability benefits, it was possible to go, and I agreed again.
“As if they are paying out of grandfather’s pocket”
When I entered the Republican Rehabilitation Center, I got upset when I saw a line arguing with the guards at the door. But when I said that I came to be treated, to my relief I was immediately allowed inside. But I couldn’t tear myself away from the spectacle that took place on the other side of the gate, which looked like prison bars.
One of the disabled people who have been undergoing treatment at the Republican Rehabilitation Center for 10 days, Alislam, saw me watching a desperate crowd and approached me in a wheelchair: “It’s like money from my grandfather’s pocket …”
Alislam was wounded in the first Karabakh war. Since 1993 he has been periodically treated in rehabilitation centers of the country. He pointed to the guards who were trying to stop the crowd and continued: “… I’m talking about these. As if they are paying out of grandfather’s pocket. For example, look at this child. If his mother does not hold his hand, he will fall, and his pension will be cut! But why? Let him be treated for this money, maybe there will be an improvement … “
The Republican Rehabilitation Center is consists of three buildings. The Center operates in one of the buildings, and the State Agency for Medical and Social Expertise and Rehabilitation operates in the other. It was not possible to find out where the third building is located and what they do there.
Those who came for re-examination to the medical and social expert commission were waiting at this door: some from the region, some from the city … Everyone had one desire: to receive disability benefits.
“There are no keys, the doors of the rooms do not close…”
The gloomy mood due to what I saw at the entrance to the building immediately improved when I moved to the building where the Republican Rehabilitation Center is located, as I saw smiling staff greeting people who came for treatment. I thought it would continue. After completing the paperwork and medical examination, I learned that there would be no medical procedures on the first day, and retired to my room to rest from the road.
It was a neat room for two. While I was trying to meet my roommate, a woman came in without knocking, I didn’t say anything. She said hello: “You’re new…” After cleaning the room and making my bed, she left. When I tried to close the door from the inside, my roommate named Sarkar smiled: “There is no key, the doors of the rooms do not close …” Toward noon, when the same woman opened the toilet door without knocking, and I realized that these 14 days won’t go by so fast…
“Every day chicken for lunch”
Lunch starts at 13:00. When you open the door and go out into the corridor, the smells from the kitchen whet your appetite, you enter the dining room with the thought that you will eat delicious homemade food. But under the name “diet food” you get tasteless, unspiced chicken with bulgur, chicken with buckwheat, chicken with rice, three or four slices of cucumber and fruit juice.
Alislam, who was sitting at the table, turned around and said: “It’s like that in all rehabilitations, brother”:
“I am a healthy person, there are no problems with digestion, but every day I have to eat the same food. Why? Because they want to…”
Another patient named Sadi interjected: “What else should be hospital food? Say thank you for the food!
Alislam couldn’t resist. “I’m not in jail. This place is called “Republican Rehabilitation Center”, and we have to write a receipt every time we go out the gate … Why and for what should I be grateful? Moreover, for everything they do for us, they don’t pay out of their own pocket, the state allocates funds for the provision of these services, but none of us has exact information about the amount … Do you have any information?”, he asked Sadi.
“No… But they say that 800 manats [about $470] are allocated per person.” “I heard 1,200 manats [about $706],” Alislam added. – Are these services for 800-1200 manats? No…”
As I was leaving the dining room, a man named Aslan approached me and asked if you have time, let’s talk a little. Aslan is a former military man. He was demobilized from the army with the rank of colonel. He has already been treated in rehabilitation centers several times. He also complains about the service in rehabilitation centers:
“The food is really bad. Those who come with a first-degree disabled person to look after him are not given food at all. But the problem isn’t just food. Some people, if not all, can go out and buy food if they don’t like the food here. But why don’t people get injections if they brought drugs with them ?!”
“What do you mean?” I asked because his last words caught my attention. “Some patients are given injections at home, which they must continue here, but the nurses at the center refuse to give these injections. They say we don’t have permission…”
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“To be fair, the treatment is well done”
More than half of patients complain, but none of them ask questions to competent persons.
In the morning in the corridor I met Parvana Useinova, the head of the department of the Republican Rehabilitation Center. Parvana khanum’s first question after the greeting: how is the treatment going, are you satisfied with the situation, are there any complaints?
Patients did not complain about the treatment. In addition to inpatients, the center also accepts outpatients. I can say that the treatment is going well. I talked with patients who came and went to the Republican Rehabilitation Center, they are also satisfied with the treatment.
One of the center’s outpatients, a disabled person named Sadyg, complained that every time he enters and leaves the door, he is asked who he is and why he came: “One, two, three times … I will still come here 13-14 days. How many times can you answer the same question? As for the treatment… The treatment is good. I come every year, it helps me a lot,” he adds.
Answered the questions of the head of the department – “everything is in order”, then tried to send her questions from other patients. “Why don’t the doors of the rooms close?” In response to this question, she stated that several years ago, in one of the rehabilitation centers, one of the patients’ condition worsened, and no one could come to his aid, because the door of the room was closed from the inside.
According to Parvana khanum, after that incident, the agency not only decided not to lock the doors of the rooms from the inside, but also made other decisions: “For example, food used to be prepared in rehabilitation centers, now catering companies prepare and bring it to the order of the agency. It is for their own safety that the patient leaving the rehabilitation center gives a receipt every time he goes to the store. The reason why injections are not given with drugs brought by patients from home is that we do not know the conditions under which these drugs were stored.”
“Meals for 1 person for 14 days, 438 manats 6 kopecks”
Although we were unable to receive a response to the request that we sent to the relevant structures regarding the problems outlined in the article, in the course of a small study on the Unified Internet Portal of Public Procurement, we learned that on December 27, 2022, the State Medical and Social Expertise Agency and Rehabilitation Center announced “State medical and sanitary nutritional standards for persons receiving rehabilitation services in rehabilitation institutions under the Agency for Social Expertise and Rehabilitation, established by Resolution No. public institutions of the social sphere”. The winner of the bid is Ziyafet Isa oglu Farzaliyev.
According to the information provided on the portal, Ziyafat Isa oglu Farzaliev’s offer of 1,828,536.85 manats [about $1,075,600] was accepted for the purchase of ready meals for 175,200 people (156,950 adults and 18,250 children) for 12 months of 2023 .
On average, this is 10.43 manats [$6.13] per meal per person. That is, from January to December 2023, the cost of food for one person in rehabilitation centers for 14 days 3 times a day is 438.06 manats [about $258].