Sunday, 17 October 2021

Minister Attends Course in Medical Response to Major Incidents

ZAGREB, 17 Oct, 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš on Sunday attended a course in medical response to major incidents at the "Dr. Josip Benčević" Hospital in Slavonski Brod, saying that the course integrated the competence and experience of the entire health system.

It is excellent that the course is being held in Slavonski Brod but we must train experts in other regions as well, Beroš said, announcing that the Croatian Emergency Medicine Institute would finance ten such courses across the country in the next two years.

Beroš recalled that a result of training of Croatian medical workers was also the timely response to an accident that happened this past summer, when a bus with Kosovo registration plates overturned on a highway in Croatia. The accident resulted in a large number of injured passengers and 10 fatalities.

The natural disasters that have hit Croatia over a short period of time also point to the importance of enhancing the competencies of the emergency services, he said.

"In this hospital courses like this one have been held for 15 years. So far 449 professionals have attended them and an additional 60 are attending this course," he said.

The Slavonski Brod course is a post-graduate course of the European Society for Trauma and Emergency Surgery. It has been organised for the eighth year by the Health Ministry, the Croatian Institute for Emergency Medicine and the Slavonski Brod-based Croatian Society for Disaster Medicine.

The director of the "Dr. Josip Benčević" Hospital, Josip Samardžić, said that the hospital has competent staff as well as experience from the 1991-95 war, which it has transformed into a modern response to major disasters.

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Monday, 4 October 2021

20 of 6,236 Health Workers Tested Positive, Says Minister

ZAGREB, 4 Oct 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš said on Monday 6,236 health workers in some 60 medical institutions were tested today, when COVID certificate mandate was introduced in the health sector, and that 20 of the tests came back positive.

"That's another irrefutable argument that the measures are necessary for protecting patients and workers," he tweeted.

Not one test came back negative and four staff did not show up for testing at KBC Zagreb, Croatia's biggest hospital, where a protest was held this morning against mandatory certificates and testing.

As of today, every employee in the health and social care sectors, as well as visitors, must have a COVID certificate. Medical workers without it must be tested twice a week.

The chambers of physicians and nurses supported the mandatory certificates, saying they will contribute to patient's safety, while condemning the protests held outside some hospitals, saying they disrupted the peace patients need for their treatment.

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Monday, 4 October 2021

No Daily Wage for Medical Staff Who Do Not Have COVID-19 Certificates, Refuse Testing

ZAGREB, 4 Oct 2021 - In a comment on the introduction of COVID-19 certificates for workers in the healthcare and welfare systems, the head of the KBC Zagreb hospital, Ante Ćorušić, said on Sunday that an employee who does not have such a certificate and refuses to get tested will not be paid their daily wage.

There will be a number of points at the hospital where one will be able to get tested and have their COVID-19 certificates checked, Ćorušić said in a comment on new epidemiological rules, under which employees in the healthcare and welfare systems, visitors, and persons escorting patients have to have digital COVID-19 certificates as of 4 October.

KBC Zagreb has around 6,200 employees, and around 1,600 of them do not have COVID-19 certificates or proof that they have recovered from the coronavirus infection. We cannot force them to get vaccinated if they do not want to do it, Ćorušić said in an interview with the HTV public broadcaster on Sunday but noted that the situation was under control and that there were checkpoints at the hospital where COVID-19 certificates would be checked and testing would be performed.

He said that he believed that the new rules would nevertheless help raise awareness of the need to get vaccinated.

Asked if possibly penalties stricter than the non-payment of daily wages would follow, he said that according to available information, nobody would get fired.

"But those who do not want to get tested and do not have proof of recovery from the disease or proof of vaccination will not receive their daily wage. That wage will go to someone else who will have to work in their stead on that day," he added.

Ćorušić noted that not much would change for patients.

Most of the patients who expect to be hospitalized, even those awaiting specific medical procedures available in day hospitals, have COVID-19 certificates anyway, he said.

Patients with medical emergencies do not have to display COVID-19 certificates upon admission, however, "depending on the situation and their condition, some of them will definitely undergo PCR testing," Ćorušić added.

He noted that close to 90% of doctors at the KBC Zagreb and around 56% of nurses had been vaccinated, adding that a more rational approach would be to get vaccinated, thus protecting oneself, patients, and one's own family.

Julije Meštrović, head of the KBC Split hospital, said that 95% of doctors working at that hospital had been vaccinated or had recovered from COVID-19 as had around 90% of nurses.

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Thursday, 30 September 2021

7 in 10 Employees in Croatian Healthcare System Vaccinated Against COVID

ZAGREB, 30 Sept 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš said on Thursday that on 28 September, the share of the staff in the healthcare system vaccinated against coronavirus was 70%, and this percentage was even higher among doctors alone, 86%.

"Inoculation is a guarantee for the downward trend in the epidemiological curve and for going back to a normal life," he informed the government.

In the last 24 hours, Croatia has registered 1,710 new cases of the infection with coronavirus, and that the share of positive tests had been 17.68%, Beroš added.

Hospitals are currently treating 745 COVID-19 patients and of them, 99 are placed on ventilators.

The minister warned that a share of persons on ventilators among the COVID hospitalizations had reached a record high level of 14%.

He said the hospital system was ready to provide effective protection to all persons who need hospital treatment.

Broken down by regions, the number of hospitalizations is oscillating, however, the biggest burden is still o the KBC Split hospital, according to the minister.

In the last week, community nurses visited over 5,000 unvaccinated senior citizens, and after the contact with their district nurses, 1,197 decided to get vaccinated, however, 76% refused immunization without any valid health reason, said Beroš.

Until 29 September, Croatia administered over 3.42 million doses of coronavirus vaccine, and 53.59% of the adult population have received at least a shot, while 50,24% have been fully vaccinated.

Interior Minister Davor Božinović said that the validity of COVID certificates concerning the recovery or vaccination of a certificate holder when crossing the border had been extended from 270 days to 365 days.

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Thursday, 23 September 2021

Beroš: Number of Inoculated Health Workers Up

ZAGREB, 23 Sept 2021 -  Health Minister Vili Beroš informed a cabinet meeting on Thursday that the number of health workers who have been inoculated has increased, adding that almost 90% of doctors have been vaccinated against COVID.

"So far nine out of ten doctors in Croatia have been vaccinated. Last week the increase in the number of people inoculated in the healthcare sector was two and a half times greater than the week before that."

"With 68% of health workers inoculated, and those who have obtained immunity after recovering from COVID, and with the introduction of COVID certificates in the healthcare system in October, I expect all processes within the hospital system to function normally," Minister Beroš said.

He said that hospitals were successfully managing the challenges of the fourth wave of the epidemic and gradually increasing their capacities. The Split hospital is under a lot of pressure with a large number of the gravest COVID cases and with only 10% of hospitalized patients being vaccinated.

Croatia has so far administered 3,388,015 doses of vaccines, and 53% of the adult population has been vaccinated, with 49.82% having received both doses.

Waiting lists reduced 31%

Beroš said that waiting lists had been reduced by 31% compared to the pre-pandemic period. This can be attributed to fewer patients coming in for examinations.

Interior Minister Davor Božinović recalled that the national COVID response team had allowed conferences and fairs to be held in closed premises as an important economic activity. That could be expanded if we have a greater number of citizens who have been vaccinated, he said.

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Thursday, 23 September 2021

Minister Warns Against Manipulation of Facts at Union Protest

ZAGREB, 23 Sept 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš said on Thursday that a union protest of nurses is a legitimate and democratic way of expressing one's position and demanding rights but he noted that there is no room for manipulation of facts.

The introduction of new anti-epidemic measures for employees in medical and social care institutions at the beginning of October has elicited debates in a part of the public, prompting some of the unions representing health sector employees to stage a public protest, said the minister.

"The protest to be held today by the Nurses Union... is a legitimate and democratic way to express one's positions and demands regarding certain outstanding issues and I support it as such," Beroš said in a statement when asked by the media to comment on the protest to be held in downtown Zagreb.

He added that what he did not have understanding for was the purposeful manipulation of facts regarding the announced introduction of new epidemiological rules in medical institutions, notably those that treat patients, who are the most vulnerable group in terms of possible infection with coronavirus and its consequences.

"As Health Minister, it is my obligation to take all necessary measures to prevent the infection from entering and spreading in the health sector, notably hospitals," he said.

COVID-19 certificates will be required for employees in the health and social care systems as of 1 October.

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Thursday, 2 September 2021

Beroš: Of 117 COVID Patients Put On Ventilators Lately, 110 Unvaccinated

ZAGREB, 2 Sept 2021 - In the last 10 weeks, there have been 117 COVID-19 patients on ventilators, and 110 of them were not vaccinated against this infection, Health Minister Vili Beroš said on Thursday.

In the last 24 hours, 9,989 coronavirus tests have been performed and 8% or 798 have turned out to be positive; 11 COVID patients have died, bringing the COVID-19-related death toll to 8,349, the national coronavirus crisis management team stated on Thursday morning.

Currently, there are 3,943 active cases, and of them, 440 are receiving hospital treatment, including 53 who are on ventilators.

In the week from 23 to 30 August, 4,140 people tested positive for the virus, and 86.16% of them had not been vaccinated.

Hospitals are increasing their capacity for COVID patients in line with epidemiological developments, he said.

The minister informed the government that the average age of hospitalized patients in the fourth wave of the pandemic was lower than in the third wave. The share of children in hospitalized COVID patients has tripled, he noted.

More than 8 in 10 doctors, 6 in 10 nurses vaccinated

Since the start of its vaccine rollout, Croatia has administered nearly 3.3 million vaccines, and 42.64% of the population, or 51.22% of adult citizens, have been vaccinated.

Until 30 August, 83.17% of doctors and 60.84% of nurses and medical technicians got vaccinated.

Broken down by age cohort, the share of persons above 65 who have received at least one shot is 69.5% and 65.8% of them have fully been immunized.

Treatment of COVID-19 and sick leave have cost HRK 2.7 billion 

A day of hospital treatment of a COVID patient costs HRK 11,000 and the average duration of hospitalization is 20 days. Hospitalization and sick leave for COVID patients have cost the state HRK 2.7 billion so far, which is equivalent to half the value of Pelješac Bridge, Beroš said.

He warned that if the trend of unvaccinated people catching the virus continued, one could expect a further rise in hospitalizations and new mutations.

(€1 = HRK 7.5) 

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Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Montenegrin Health Minister Jelena Borovinić Bojović Thanks Croatia For Vaccine Donation

ZAGREB, 25 May, 2021 - Montenegrin Health Minister Jelena Borovinić Bojović said in Zagreb on Tuesday that Croatia's donation of 10,000 vaccine doses was significant for Montenegro's efforts to inoculate its population against COVID-19.

In early May the Croatian government decided to donate 30,000 doses of coronavirus vaccines to Bosnia and Herzegovina and 10,000 doses each to Montenegro and Kosovo.

After meeting with her Croatian counterpart Vili Beroš, Borovinić Bojović thanked Croatia for that "big friendly gesture and great solidarity."

The donation of 10,000 doses will be "very significant in the process of mass inoculation that is currently underway in Montenegro," she said.

Croatia's Health Minister Vili Beroš underscored that Croatia's care for its neighbouring countries.

"I hope that we will contribute at least a little in the fight against this disease," said Beroš.

The two ministers discussed cooperation in the transplantation programme with Borovinić Bojović underscoring that Croatia has "shown especially good will to help us in resolving that problem."

She added that they discussed the signing of a memorandum of understanding that would enable Montenegrin doctors to come to Croatia for further training regarding transplantation surgeries.

The Croatian transplantation programme has been recognised beyond the borders of our country, said Beroš.

He underscored Croatia was willing to help Montenegro in that regard.

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Thursday, 20 May 2021

Minister to Send Inspection to Hospital to Investigate Allegations of Corruption

ZAGREB, 20 May 2021 - Health Minister Vili Beroš said on Thursday that he would send an inspection to Zagreb's Sisters of Charity Hospital, noting that there was zero tolerance for corruption and possible use of hospital funds for private interests and supporting efforts to uncover possible unlawful actions.

"I have been informed of the personnel changes at the KBC Sisters of Charity. I am not happy with what is going on in that institution, but I am determined to have potential irregularities investigated for the sake of all employees and protection of patients' interests," the minister said after earlier in the day, the incumbent head of the hospital's radiology department, Dijana Zadravec, who claims that hospital funds are used for private interests and that corruption and crime are being covered up, was replaced.

Beroš said that he would send a team of inspectors from the Health Ministry to the hospital and also ask the Croatian Health Insurance Fund to launch an investigation and that he expected the Finance Ministry to join in with the aim of thoroughly investigating the hospital's operations.

The acting director of the hospital, Zoran Vatavuk, replaced Zadravec over poor interpersonal relations that had resulted in a large number of radiologists leaving the hospital.

Zadravec said that her replacement was unlawful and accused Vatavuk of obstructing her attempts to improve work at the radiology department.

She also said that Vatavuk was covering up crime and corruption at the hospital which she had reported to the competent institutions.

Zadravec said that she was in conflict with "the heads of hospital departments who own private hospitals and work to the benefit of those hospitals while using the resources of the public health system."

In a comment on Zadravec's allegations, Vatavuk said that he strongly supported her efforts to have possible irregularities at the hospital punished and noted that the latest report by an internal audit requested by his predecessor had revealed no irregularities in the hospital's operations.

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Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Feasibility Study For Hospital Project in Osijek to be Prepared

ZAGREB, 11 May, 2021 - The 35 million kuna contract on the elaboration of a feasibility study for the construction of a new complex housing the hospital centre in Osijek was signed on Tuesday in that biggest eastern Croatian city.

The document on preparing the feasibility study was signed by Health Minister Vili Beroš, the Osijek Hospital Centre head, Željko Zubčić and the representative of the consortium of bidders. As many as 30 million kuna will be provided from European funds, whereas the health ministry will cover the remaining 5.2 million.

Regional Development and EU Funds minister, Nataša Tramišak, said at the contract-signing ceremony that the co-funding from the EU funds was ensured through the "Slavonia, Baranja and Srijem" project.

She said that the construction of the future hospital centre was estimated at two billion kuna, and the exact sum would be known after the Osijek hospital centre provided full information.

Zubčić said that the new hospital centre "is a greenfield investment", and would be built at a new location. He said that the new hospital complex "is a necessity for Osijek and Croatia's east.

The elaboration of the feasibility study is expected to take a year.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

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