Staunton, March 29 – In yet another example of the fact that Vladimir Putin’s policies hit the neediest and those least capable of defending themselves hardest, Labor and Social Security Minister Maksim Topilin has announced that up to 45 percent of those now handicapped because of mentally illness will lose their places in hospitals as a result of the optimization of health care.
At present, there are approximately 155,000 mental patients in almost 600 hospital facilities across the Russian Federation. If as expected, this Putin program to save money is implemented, more than 70,000 of them will be released to family members or simply left to fend for themselves (rosbalt.ru/russia/2019/03/29/1772651.html).
Doctors, social service workers and volunteers tell Dmitry Remizov of the Rosbalt news agency that this is not only unrealistic but dangerous because in many cases, those pushed out of hospital care may engage in anti-social and even violent acts.
Igor Khmaruk, a psychologist at the Russian State Medical University, is among them. He says that carrying out this program is going to prove “impossible” because it will soon be obvious to everyone that the consequences will be “only negative,” including in terms of cost to the government.
Psychiatrist Igor Lazarev concurs. He says that he watched this process begin in the hospital where he used to work. Many patients were sent home without any of the necessary supports being put in place, all in the name of “optimization.” In almost every case, things ended “badly.”
Doctors don’t hospitalize the mentally ill lightly. Consequently, those that are in institutions need to be there and for some periods of time. When such patients are suddenly released, any progress with them is typically lost because they aren’t given what they need to function in society.
The government’s plan to de-institutionalize so many people was sprung on the concerned public so quickly that many are still in shock. Activists are mobilizing the expert community to try to prevent disaster. Whether they will be successful remains to be seen, but they are outraged.
They recognize that economists have taken over many administrations including health care and are concerned only with saving money no matter how much suffering their projects inflict on people. Now, they are going after a group that can’t easily fight back; but their supporters promise to resist any moves to institutionalize so many all at once.
One can only hope and pray that they succeed in blocking this latest heartless policy of the Kremlin leadership.