The desperate measures a mayor takes to bring doctors to the country. Doctors attracted to the village with free accommodation and transport

The mayor of a commune in Romania is trying to attract doctors to the local hospital by offering them free accommodation and transport. In addition, the mayor is also rehabilitating the building where the medical unit operates. We are talking about a building over 50 years old, never consolidated.

The hospital in Bozovici was never rehabilitated. Photo source: Adrian Stoicu

In Romania you are not allowed to get sick. Especially if you live in the village, God forbid something happens! The reason? Most of the time, you have no one to ask for help, no one to provide you with medical care or treatment. The lack of doctors in rural areas has already become a cliché, a reality that thousands of people live every day. Moreover, the former hospitals, many of them are closed, and others operate in decades-old buildings and provide services like in the stone age. In Bozovici commune, in Caraș Severin county, things could change, promises the mayor. He devised a plan by which he hopes to attract doctors back to the village: he offers them housing, free transport and a modern 21st century hospital.Only, only they will come to us too!”hopes the mayor Adrian Stoicu.

One doctor in the whole hospital

Around 3,000 souls live in Bozovici. They are simple people, from the country, but thrifty, the mayor tells us, proudly. But they have a big problem: on the one hand, the hospital in the commune, which serves all of Valea Almajului, because it is about to collapse. On the other hand, the lack of doctors, who have not flocked to work here for many years. “Patients from eight neighboring municipalities should come to this hospital. Some are three, four kilometers away. Others are 20 kilometers away. The whole Almaju Valley, to be exact, that is, over 15 thousand inhabitants. At the moment, however, we only have one doctor in the hospital. The surgeon, who is away on a specialization course and will only return in April”, the mayor explained to us the dramatic situation in which the inhabitants of the commune he shepherds, but also of the entire area of ​​the county, find themselves.

The medical unit serves eight municipalities in Valea Almajului.  Photo source: Adrian Stoicu

The medical unit serves eight municipalities in Valea Almajului. Photo source: Adrian Stoicu

“So, whoever needs a doctor goes to Reșita, but it's only 80 kilometers to get there. But this will not last long, soon we will start the rehabilitation of the hospital, and after the inauguration we hope to attract medical personnel as well”, he says. “Right now, I can't call any doctors to work in this building. No one is coming. The unit is over 50 years old and has never been rehabilitated. We only did small repairs, enough to keep her standing. We paid everything related to maintenance, utilities, heating, lighting… about 200,000 euros a year costs us everything. As for the medical equipment, it is old from Ceaușescu's time. I have received some more from the donations, but it is not enough. With an ultrasound machine and a few beds we can't do any work”, Adrian Stoicu explains.

Building saved from ruin, hospital for thousands of people

The former municipal hospital in Bozovici was closed in 2011 following the famous Emergency Ordinance that then locked the doors of many medical units in the country. A year later, in 2012, the building came under the umbrella of the Reșita County Hospital, functioning as an external unit. “Since then we've been trying to keep it alive as best we can and afford it. In one year we installed thermal insulation, in another we solved the heating, we installed a central heating system, we made small repairs here and there so that our hospital can receive patients. But the equipment that is decades old, totally outdated, the working conditions far from everything that means 21st century, the rickety and unsanitary building drove the doctors to the city. For a while, the hospital operated with only two internists who, being retired, retired from the activity. We had a pediatrician who came from Timișoara, and then he transferred closer to home and we lost him too. Then, a surgeon from Reșita came. As wards we had paediatrics, minor surgery and internal medicine”, confesses the official. The hospital is now deserted. Only a few nurses still provide the minimum required. “Gather analytics and that's it”says Adrian Stoicu.

Indeed, the building, consisting of a ground floor and a first floor, sits desolately in the middle of the commune. With the crumbling walls, with the plaster falling down to the bricks, with the roof torn off by the wind in some places, the former hospital seems like a ghost forgotten by time, but also by the authorities.

Medical equipment, decades old.  Photo source: Adrian Stoicu

Medical equipment, decades old. Photo source: Adrian Stoicu

But, says the mayor Adrian Stoicu, everything will be fine. The mayor struggled and got the money to renovate the building from the ground up, but also to equip it with modern medical equipment. “I started from a big nothing. Admittedly, we had a minimum of equipment: an ultrasound, a holter, an EKG machine. But I couldn't say to any doctor: Come on, I have a holter from 30 years ago, but let's see how we manage! Something had to be done urgently. We accessed a project of 1,600,000 thousand euros for equipping the outpatient clinic. I also received some money from the Government…several deputies came up with an amendment to the 2024 budget and I was allocated funds for the rehabilitation of the building. We invested in the locality for nothing, we built roads, schools, installed water, sewerage if we don't have a hospital. I will have a complete line of gastroenterology that costs around 200 thousand euros. We already have three packages through PNRR on the radiology side, some of the furniture has also arrived. And the equipment is going to come from now on as well”, shows the mayor.

As for the rehabilitation of the building, an auction will soon be organized “to find the builder. And if everything goes as I want, in the fall we will have the grand opening”, hopes the mayor. He told us that the entire investment amounts to 3.5 million lei.

Doctors, attracted with free accommodation and transport

In the meantime, however, the mayor of Bozovici is trying to attract doctors as well. “We need at least four doctors and around eight, ten assistants That's to cover surgery, internal medicine, pediatrics and gynecology. These sections are essential for people”, the mayor does his calculations. It hopes to attract a total of at least 25 employees: doctors, nurses and support staff. “When you close a hospital it's very easy. When you open it, however, it is extremely heavy. But he hopes we can handle it. We are doing everything we can.”

This is what one of the City Hall homes made available to doctors looks like.  Photo source: Adrain Stoicu

This is what one of the City Hall homes made available to doctors looks like. Photo source: Adrain Stoicu

In order to attract them to Bozovici, Adrian Stoicu offers the doctors all the conditions. “We have four apartments waiting for those who would work in the ambulatory. Block of flats, with two and three rooms. Two of the apartments are fully furnished and equipped. The other two are semi-furnished, but if we have those interested, we can solve the situation instantly. Two other apartments will be set up in the attic of a former polyclinic, and we also have a few annexes in the hospital yard that can also be turned into homes.”the mayor also said.

The apartments are fully equipped.  Photo source: Adrian Stoicu

The apartments are fully equipped. Photo source: Adrian Stoicu

Doctors who do not want to move to the locality, are attracted with the transport settlement. “Those who would be on guard, for example, would come for 24 hours and then go home. We offer them free shipping“, he says.