I recently had the horrific experience of being admitted to St John’s Hospital (Szent János Kórház) in Budapest for three days, and wanted to discuss the appalling conditions both the staff and the patients must tolerate.
For example toilet paper, soap and cutlery are not supplied, patients must bring their own. So if you arrive alone in an emergency, you must suffer the double degradation of begging for toilet roll and soap, and then having to scrape the food off your plate into your mouth by hand. I believe this is similar to the regime in place at the infamous Thai prison the “Bangkok Hilton”.
Can you imagine the inevitable health hazard for anyone entering this environment, let alone someone who has had invasive surgery and must convalesce in a place with no soap or toilet paper? It’s madness! One person alone through not washing his or her hands properly after visiting the toilet could spread by touch throughout the ward diseases including hepatitis A and E, polio, gastroenteritis, poliomyelitis, enteroviruses, cholera and clostridium difficile, to name a few.
After initial checks by the cardiac department I was transferred to the neuro ward after a CT scan. I was given a bed and crammed into a room with three other unfortunate men. This room measured no more than four metres by three metres. I was no more than one metre from two other beds.
To my horror, I observed a staff member handing out pills with bare hands to multiple patients and with the same hands clearing up soiled tissues, an unbelievable health hazard. Under the present conditions a patient could arrive with one illness and leave incubating three new ones, without you or your relatives realising that you actually contracted them in the one place you thought was curing you.
I would say St John’s is a luxury five-star holiday complex for nasty bacteria and viruses.
Of course I am mindful of the billions of forints recently lavished by the politicians on themselves in their splendid Parliament, surely not more than two kilometres from St John’s. I know nothing will be done about the long-term ruination of places like this, but I was considering starting an appeal called “The toilet paper and soap for St John’s appeal”, which would have the dual effect of alleviating this problem and, more importantly, embarrassing the authorities.
I believe over time the continuous supply of anti-bacterial soap and toilet paper could avoid many deaths by acquired infections, especially to the elderly and those with weak immune systems; infections contracted during their stay but only showing up once they leave.
If my appeal just saves one life it would be worth it and I am willing to contribute the first HUF 40,000. At Spar prices, for this tiny sum 1000 rolls of toilet paper and 60 antibacterial bottles of hand wash can be bought. Probably enough for the whole hospital for a few days? Imagine what HUF 1,000,000 would buy at wholesale prices, let alone simply asking companies to product-place their hand-wash and toilet roll in the hospital.
I cannot imagine in a million years a politician would ever end up at St John’s, maybe for an hour in Accident and Emergency but he’d be whisked off instantly to a private hospital after that. “No bog roll or soap… are you insane? I can’t possibly stay here, you fools, this is for the hardy peasantry!”
By the way, the staff were all pleasant and helpful and are doing their best in the most appalling conditions. We have been coming to Budapest for 15 years and love it here.
The photograph taken by my wife is rather poignant, I think.