As people age, they not only need more medical care but they need care that is specialized for their cohort because diseases manifest themselves differently and more intensely among those who are elderly. In many countries, in fact, doctors trained and institutions set up to handle their needs are an increasingly large portion of the medical landscape.
The hospital was erected in 1956, and it long was a center in the Soviet Union and then Russia for leading specialists in the disease of the aging. But its destruction began in 2013 when Putin launched his health “’optimization’” program to save money on the treatment of the population, Nina Davletzyanova of Radio Svoboda says.
The powers that be without consulting patients, doctors or people in the neighborhood closed many of the specialized units of the hospital and allowed the building to fall into disrepair, apparently so that they could justify their current plans to demolish it entirely and force patients to go elsewhere.
Russians say that this rolling destruction of the hospital is part of a government effort to force people to pay for medical care. “If you have money, we’ll cure you; if not, we don’t need you” is their message to the population. But those who had been using the hospital not only have lost its services but are forced to go long distances to find any equivalent care.
Local officials say they were not consulted about the closure either but are sure that some new medical facility will go up in place of the shuttered hospital for the elderly. Residents are not so sure, the Radio Svoboda journalist says. After all, if you plan to expand treatment, you don’t first destroy existing treatment facilities.