BURST The darkest place…

The darkest place I could have ever been at 4:00 in the morning is the Clinical Center in Skopje. In that city within a city, a dark city within a city, I am greeted by the parking gate. I enter by pressing the dirty button and taking the ticket. The streets are filled with holes. At almost every corner I see dogs that stop and follow my movement with their look, and then return to their night boredom. At the cross-section there are relatively new signs on where the clinics are located. The streets are dark, so I have to turn on the high beam headlights in order to see the writing on the signs.

By: Xhabir Deralla

The Children’s clinic is quiet. However, the entrance is lit, and the walls have drawings with Disney animated movie heroines. The doctor on duty is tired, but polite and professional. While leaving, I notice a message to the staff on duty, all with capital letters, with several spelling mistakes and many exclamation marks. At the bottom it says that it is an ORDER FROM THE DIRECTOR. Humiliating for the staff, but also for the patients. What kind of hospital is this, when the staff is treated like this in front of everyone who enters there? The procedure in the laboratory is quick, the young laboratory assistant is tired, but polite. The elevators squeak, are old and dirty. We paid 108 denars for the services.

Next stop is the Clinic of internal medicine, on the second floor, where the Ear, nose and throat clinic is. On the right side is Toxicology. The light is dim. A group of people come out of Toxicology. One of them pushes an old wheelchair with an older man sitting on it, the patient, with his head tilted on one side, is shaking from the uneven cobbled pavement. There is no hospital staff. Only two-three dogs are silently following the procession. In an old vehicle, right next to the entrance for Toxicology, there are people sleeping. The entrance for the Internal medical clinic is like from the horror movies. We climbed the stairs, only to determine that on the second floor the stairs are blocked by old profiles, broken furniture, waste. Wrong, it’s not that one. Back through the dark and dirty stairs. After the second attempt, we managed to find the clinic. Morbid silence and stench. Peeled walls. The new door of the Neurology clinic shines like in science fiction movies. Like a reminder that it can be otherwise.

We ring. A nurse opens the door, sleepy. She directs us to the ambulance. We don’t wait long, but the old equipment immediately catches your eyes, like from the black and white movies, the furniture is falling apart and so are the butterflies. A dozen butterflies, with dark edges on their wings are along the walls, and some are flying. Two were on the old floor, turned upside down, dead. The examination didn’t last long and everything came down to the diagnosis and report of the doctor on duty in the Children’s clinic. On our way out of Internal medicine clinic, I notice a cat coming out of the clinic. Slowly, lazily, like it was at home.

Just a little before 5 am, two pharmacies work in the center of Skopje. I paid for the medicine privately, 700 and a few denars. Only your family doctor can prescribe a prescription for medicine that is covered with participation of the Health Fund. If it’s night, a holiday or weekend then the entire amount is paid. This time I had money. But what if I hadn’t. What about all those who hadn’t had money last night, but had an urgent need of medication?

When we came home, we scrubbed our hands for a long time. An ugly experience, very ugly. And this is a story that is on the very surface. I know about tragic experiences, I myself have tragic experiences with the Macedonian health care for almost three decades.

This time I’m not going to write exactly what’s on the top of my mind.

I wish the Minister of Health a successful day, and much health to all my fellow citizens, so that they don’t have to have anything to do with the Macedonian health care.


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