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Romanian care homes depict a frightening reality

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The medical staff from Floreasca and Gerota emergency hospitals in Bucharest, who evaluated and treated the people brought from the three asylums in Ilfov county, stated that it was the first time they had faced such cases of starvation and neglect in such a dimension. According to the doctors, the patients were not only elderly, there were also young people with mental illnesses among them. A doctor likened the cases of neglected people in asylums to the atrocities of Nazi extermination camps.

Investigators revealed that some of the patients ended up eating their shirt buttons and beads because of continuous starvation.. According to the report with the arrest proposals made by the DIICOT prosecutors, a 600-page document, Romanian state officials from various agencies, with duties in the field of social assistance, covered up abuses in nursing homes and protected their owners.

The state gives up to 1000 euro per month per person to be taken care of in these social centres. Very little of those funds were put to such use. The victims were sedated to sleep for 15 hours and their clothes were allegedly sprayed with non-commercial “odourless” insecticides against bedbugs and lice, although these substances are toxic.

On July 4, 2023, DIICOT prosecutors descended on the three dormitories, conducting searches and bringing 26 suspects to hearings. According to them, a total of 98 people had become victims of the care centres.

As the investigation moved forward, almost every other day a new care home was discovered to have mistreated its patients. The National Anticorruption Directorate, once headed by the current European Chief Prosecutor – Laura Codruța Kövesi has also opened a criminal investigation into another instance of care homes mistreating its patients. Equally horrifying information emerged this time from a care home in Mures country in the centre of Romania. Here the investigation revealed that whole days went by without patients receiving any food at all. Moreover, some were allegedly kept tied to the bed. One criminal psychologist, university professor Tudorel Butoi teaching at the Romanian Police Academy explained to EU Reporter how “all of these actions carry the trademark of organized crime: concealing of illegal activities and lack of remorse for their actions”. He went on to recommend that “the personnel working in these centres should face psychological tests before working there”.

A psychiatrist Gabriel Diaconu who went on to examine the patients tortured in these centers after they were released went on to say that the cruelty and indifference seen there shows that the Romanian social protection system is on the brink of collapse. The Romania Ministry for Labor and Social Services told EU Reporter in an email that they are monitoring the situation and centres across the country in order to prevent a situation like this from happening again.

President Klaus Iohannis described the scandal of the “asylums of horror” as a “national shame” and asked the authorities that the people who are guilty of starving, humiliating and assaulting the elderly in several homes in Ilfov should be “identified and punished”.

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The Romania Ministry for Labor and Social Services told EU Reporter in an email that they are monitoring the situation and centres across the country in order to prevent a situation like this from happening again.

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