The Grim Reality of Russia's Health Care System

17,500 towns and villages have no medical infrastructure.
A patient walks with a relative at the Palliative care center of the Moscow Healthcare Department.
12_02_Russia_01 Source: Valery Sharifulin/TASS/Getty

It was late at night when Hanna Rún, a 26-year-old ballroom dancing champion from Iceland, woke up with searing chest pains in Penza, a city some 400 miles southeast of Moscow. Alarmed by her worsening condition, her Russian in-laws did what anyone else would do—they called an ambulance.

Rún would soon wish they hadn’t.

After an ambulance ride down potholed roads, Rún was placed in a hospital ward with moldy walls, filthy sheets and screaming nurses who crudely administered an intravenous drip. In the hospital’s corridors, patients sat or lay on grimy floors.

But it was the hospital’s restrooms that shocked her most. “The floor was soaking wet and muddy, and the toilet was jammed full of urine and feces,” she wrote in a blog post, since deleted, about what she called her “nightmare” in Penza. Holding her sweater over her nose to keep out the stench, Rún tried not to touch anything in the restroom: “The sink was full of blood,” she wrote.

After doctors suggested carrying out an operation to “make sure” her internal organs were “working properly,” Rún decided

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Newsweek

Newsweek8 min readPolitics
Should Israel Annex the West Bank?
President Donald Trump with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office. Israeli Sovereignty Is the Key to Lasting Peace By Caroline Glick IN THE COMING MONTHS, ISRAEL IS expected to apply its civilian law and administration to the 3
Newsweek1 min readPolitics
During the second phase of the Coronavirus National Lockdown in Italy, a crowd protesting Floyd’s death gathered in front of the U.S. consulate in Milan last Thursday. The protesters held signs that read “Black Lives Matter” and Justice for George Fl
Newsweek2 min read
Q&A: Judith Martin
Face masks, which are now de rigueur, prevent the most common polite gesture—the smile. How can we compensate? You’ve heard of smiling eyes (“sure, they steal your heart away…”)? Even above a mask, one can see the raised cheeks and narrowed but spark