Ten people died following the fire that broke out at the ICU at the Piatra Neamt County Emergency Hospital on Saturday evening. The fire broke out in the intensive care unit of the county hospital where COVID-19 patients were being treated.
“Ten people were declared dead, and seven persons are in a critical condition, including the doctor on call at ICU tonight,” Neamt Inspectorate for Emergency Situations Spokesperson Irina Popa announced. The doctor and the nurse on duty hurried to save the patients in intensive care who were attached to respirators and they managed to evacuate some, pushing their beds outside the ward.
Health Minister Nelu Tataru went on the spot in Piatra Neamt to evaluate the case, stating that the burnt doctor is being transferred to Iasi, from where he will be taken by a medevac to Floreasca Hospital in Bucharest. Eventually, the authorities decided to transfer the doctor to Belgium, at Queen Astrid Military Hospital.
“There has been a tragic event at the hospital here, in Piatra Neamt, a fire at the SARS-CoV-2 ICU, ten deaths among the patients, a doctor with 40% of the body burnt, 15-20% 4th-degree burns on the extremities, another three persons from the medical staff with 1st and 2nd degree burns, but on restricted areas, that don’t require hospitalisation. The burnt doctor, who is conscious at the moment, is being transferred to Iasi, from where he will be taken to Floreasca Hospital, tonight, by a medevac. The other six patients are transferred to Iasi for SARS-CoV-2 support, treatment,” Nelu Tataru said on Saturday night.
According to the Neamt Inspectorate for Emergency Situations, the preliminary information point to a short circuit as cause of the fire.
Who was the doctor on call who jumped in the fire to save the patients?
The doctor severely burnt in the fire is Cătălin Denciu and was on call at the moment of the tragedy. He was born to a family of doctors, his wife is a gynecologist and they have two children, according to the local media.
“We can say that the doctor threw himself in the flames to save as many lives as he could. The nurse tried to help him”, said the hospital manager, Lucian Micu.
A hospital with a long bad management history
The County Hospital in Piatra Neamt has a long history of bad management, as it has had 8 managers in the past year. The incumbent manager, Lucian Micu, a legal expert and former mayor of Roman town, has been appointed just three weeks ago, after his predecessor had resigned following media reports with patients suspects of COVID-19 who were forced to wait outside the hospital, in the cold, to be checked.
The county hospital is under the authority of the Neamt County Council, led and controlled for year by the Social Democrat baron Ionel Arsene, who has just won another term at the helm of the county in the September local elections.
The hospital’s operating licence was pending, a permit was expected next year. The National Authority of Health Quality Management told Digi24 that the county hospital in Piatra Neamt had some irregularities on the safety of the patients and staff, more precisely four indicators were non-compliant: “They had no people in charge for preventing fires nominated for every ward or service, they had no one in charge for interventions in case of fires, they had no training programme”, said Marius Filip, a director in the Authority.
President Iohannis: “I am deeply saddened”
President Klaus Iohannis has posted a message on Facebook: “The tragedy that occurred at the Piatra Neamt County Hospital has grieved the entire country. I am deeply saddened for the death of the patients in the intensive care there and I deliver my condolences to the families in these difficult moments. I wish a very speedy recovery to the victims in very serious condition! I am standing by all those affected by this terrible accident!”