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Russia shocked as volunteers report grim facts about nursing home

Published time: October 30, 2009 10:19
Edited time: October 30, 2009 10:19

The director of a nursing home for the elderly in northwest Russia has been fired after a group of volunteers caused public outcry with their report about the terrible conditions in which patients had to live.

In mid-October a student working as a volunteer published a post in her blog describing the dreadful situation in the nursing home in the village of Yamm, in Pskov Region. Russian bloggers started distributing the information and eventually the report reached the mainstream media.

The volunteer, Liza Oleskina of the “Starost v Radost” (Aging with Joy), wrote that she had made a series of unsuccessful appeals to officials before deciding to confide in the blogosphere. She provided lots of shocking details, such as the fact that the building of the nursing house is in a disastrous condition and needs capital repairs. In addition, medical staff and management provide extremely poor treatment to the aged, leaving them to fade away silently due to the lack of medical assistance and proper daily care.

“They can’t complain, can’t ask for a glass of water to swallow a pill or a bed change. They stop understanding what’s going on”, says Liza Oleskina on her livejournal account.

According to another volunteer Marina Kochetkova, their organization has been supervising the nursing home since January 2008. During this period of time they have seen people’s ability to walk slowly deteriorate due to staff negligence. “The death rate there is sky-high compared to other institutions of the same kind. As long as a person can walk, he or she survives. The bed-ridden patients don’t live long”, says Kochevalova. She claims that her fellow volunteers have repeatedly contacted the regional social security department, but their inspections haven’t exposed any violations.

However, Russian website Regnum.ru published an interview with Yamm patients in which they said that the situation was not as grave as the volunteers had written. None of the patients said they wanted to be transferred to another place and the only request to the regional officials was to repair a bridge that connected the village with the district center.

Nevertheless, the outcry from the Internet and the media reached the upper ranks this week. Deputy Governor of Pskov Maksim Zhavoronkov visited the place together with his colleagues on Tuesday. The official denied giving any official comment, other than “It hurts a lot to see elderly people. They have lived a long life and deserve better. But so far I can neither confirm nor dismiss the information that has appeared in the media.”

According to Zhavoronkov, the administration has initiated a number of checks to investigate the situation. The first inspection will be performed by the regional prosecutor’s office. Overall, Pskov officials have promised to complete checks and deliver their verdict in 1-2 weeks.

Already on Wednesday the news arrived that Governor of the Pskov region Andrey Turchak had fired the director of the nursing home, Vladimir Popov.

The Yamm home for the elderly people was opened in a one-storey wooden building in 1994 and it currently houses 26 elderly people.

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