Health Minister Vlad Voiculescu said on Saturday that, at the end of next week, measures will be announced following the investigation from the “Matei Bals” Institute.
“We do not yet know the exact cause at ‘Matei Bals’, but what is clear is that the pandemic and the necessary treatment for COVID-19 patients have put additional pressure on the staff and infrastructure of those hospitals that treat patients with COVID-19 disease. It is a large number of patients who need oxygen, which is the main medicine for these patients, which makes fire safety, in particular, but not only, particularly difficult in many hospitals in the country. At the end of next week, measures regarding what has already been ascertained, respectively about what will be ascertained after the investigation at ‘Matei Bals’ will be announced,” Voiculescu told a press conference.
The Health Minister also sent his condolences to the families of the victims of the “Matei Bals” fire.
“I wish those who have lost their loved ones a lot of strength and all the others a speedy recovery! We are by the side of the patients and the families of those hospitalized at the ‘Matei Bals’ Institute,” Voiculescu added.
He said he intended to call the families of those killed in the fire.
“I have been in contact with people close to some of the victims,” the minister added.
At the same time, he appreciated the efforts of those who intervened and of the medical staff from “Matei Bals”.
“I would like to thank them on behalf of the institution I run, both for what happened yesterday, for what they did yesterday, and for their work during all these months of pandemic. Moreover, I would like to thank the entire staff. I would like to tell you that the healthcare system has old sins and these sins are not from yesterday, the day before yesterday, but are at least 30 years old. Yesterday we had nosocomial infections, which caused losses of lives, today we are talking especially about fires and a pandemic, we do not know what other terrible thing will come upon us tomorrow,” said the minister.
Voiculescu also said that one of the buildings of the “Matei Bals” Institute did not have an authorization from the Inspectorate General for Emergency Situations (IGSU).
The fire at “Matei Bals” broke out on Friday, around 5.00 am, and patients with COVID-19 were hospitalized in the pavilion. Three patients died charred and a fourth victim died after resuscitation failed. Later, another person was found dead in a bathroom, and a 70-year-old man died on Saturday. According to the Health Ministry, another matei Bals patient died on Sunday, bringing the fire total death toll to seven.
Police questions nurses, assistants over deadly Matei Bals Hospital fire
Two nurses and two nursing assistants of the Matei Bals hospital who were on duty at the ward where a fire broke out that killed five patients were questioned on Friday at the Bucharest Police headquarters.
According to lawyer for the Matei Bals hospital Constantin Durgeru, the two assistants tried to put out the fire and managed to stop the oxygen supply, avoiding an explosion.
“They told exactly what happened, in other words they told the truth. First called to testify were the people who were directly involved in the events, those who were on the night shift, namely nurses and assistants: two nurses and two assistants. (…) They testified as witnesses. One thing is certain, it is obvious that one cannot speak of the fault of the medical staff; it is very clear that the reaction was prompt. It was a completely unfortunate incident, absolutely unfortunate from all points of view, and the nurses, (…) because they were the first to come into contact with the fire, had a prompt reaction, and one of them also had the presence of mind to cut off the oxygen supply. Had the oxygen supply not been stopped, there would have had an explosion,” the lawyer said.
He added that the assistants did exactly the right thing: “Their first reaction was prompt, in that one of the two assistants jumped with a blanket to put out the fire, which had engulfed an unfortunate patient, and the other turned off the oxygen installation. It was obvious that she had a prompt reaction, after which both of them, one on the left and the other on the right, ran after the fire extinguishers, knowing that there were fire extinguishers at the ends of the corridor. They did exactly what they had to do. Obviously, they were well trained, reason why in such a stressful situation, although it would have been normal to panic, because we are still talking about some assistants and any normal person would have been lost in such a situation, with all the stress, but they reacted as much appropriately as possible. ”
Prosecutors and the police are investigating the case as culpable homicide.
Prosecutor: It looks like there may have been two explosions of oxygen cylinders after the fire
Prosecutor Alexandru Anghel with the Bucharest Tribunal said on Friday evening that it is possible there were two explosions of oxygen cylinders, after a fire broke out at the Matei Bals hospital.
Anghel and head of the Bucharest Police Homicide Service Marian Mihoci gave first statements on Friday regarding the conduct of the investigation in this case.
“It looks like there may have been two explosions of oxygen cylinders after the fire. It looks like there was a fire and then there were two explosions of oxygen cylinders. That is what it looks like. We’re going to find out,” said the prosecutor.
Protest march between Health Ministry and Matei Bals Institute on Saturday evening
Approximately 200 people participated, on Saturday evening, in a protest march organized by the Party the Alliance for the Union of Romanians (AUR) on the route from the Ministry of Health – “Matei Bals” Institute, in connection with the fire that resulted in the death of six patients.
Initially, the protest was organized in front of the Ministry of Health, after which people went to the “Matei Bals” Institute, and they were to return to the ministry’s headquarters, where Vlad Voiculescu had a press conference.
Protesters had flags and horns, chanting slogans such as “Resign!”, “Down with the Government!”, “Shame on you!” or “Get out of the house if you care!” and demanded the resignation of Minister Vlad Voiculescu.
Sixth victim, a 70-year-old man
The sixth victim after the fire at the “Matei Bals” Institute is a 70-year-old man, the Ministry of Health announced on Saturday, rectifying an initial information, according to which it was a 58-year-old woman.
“We are rectifying the information. This is a 70-year-old man, CPAP-dependent (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure – sleep therapy device – editor’s note), without injuries caused by fire, intubated. The 58-year-old woman is in serious condition. Both families were informed of the patients’ situation,” the Health Ministry pointed out.
Initially, the Ministry of Health had announced in a press release that the sixth death from the fire is that of a 58-year-old woman, transferred to the University Hospital, who was in serious condition, being intubated, with a severe COVID-19 pneumonia, inhalation of smoke and burns on 2% of the body surface.
Matei Bals transferred patient dies
A patient from the “Matei Bals” Institute, who had been hospitalised on an upper floor of the pavilion affected by the fire on Friday and who was transferred to an ICU of the same health unit, died on Sunday in the morning, the Health Ministry informed.
“This is a 67-year-old patient who had been hospitalised in the V pavilion of the health unit, on a higher floor. The patient was diagnosed with a severe form of SARS Cov-2 infection, but stable, with comorbidities. According to information received by the Health Ministry, immediately after the fire, the patient was transferred to an ICU of the same hospital. The patient decompensated relatively quickly and was intubated. She died this morning. In this situation, the forensic investigation will determine the causes of death,” the ministry said.
Compiled from Agerpres