The Rafik Hariri University Hospital usually does get its spot in the limelight when the country is in a state of “crisis” – whether this crisis is a war or a virus.
However, ironically enough, despite the fact that it is the country’s major backer in the face of unforeseen crises, the hospital has generally been neglected by the Lebanese state and particularly the Ministry of Health.
The Ministry has even taken it off of the list of Lebanon’s most advanced hospitals.
With the Coronavirus outbreak, the hospital currently stands as the country’s only option when it comes to treating the virus, as well as one of the country’s largest.
The hospital building, located on a spacious property in Beirut’s Bir Hassan area, currently boasts three stories with an estimated 400 beds.
The Ministry of Health has equipped a hospital ward, which includes 137 beds, in order for it to continue to receive those who are infected with the virus, and is ready to turn all its departments into a health center for infected individuals in the event of a wider spread of the virus in Lebanon.
With the fate of the country’s “health” in its hands, one would think this hospital is fully-equipped and its staff is treated with the utmost respect, but this is sadly not the case.
Hospital personnel protested near its headquarters on Wednesday, March 4th, 2020 in order to remind officials of their demands. They have reportedly not benefited from the pay raises to public sector employees, as well as the backlog in their salaries.
There are several reasons behind the Lebanese state’s “neglect” of the RHUH, as a source from the hospital told Asharq Al-Awsat.
He attributed this neglect to the fact that private hospitals in its vicinity are owned by political figures that have no interest in developing the RHUH.
He also attributed this neglect to the fact that health ministers have been handling the hospital in alliance with their political and partisan interests and directives.
“They link any initiative to developing the facility or its medical and nursing staff to political services,” he said.
An official from the Ministry of Health reportedly denied these claims, telling the media outlet and the press that “attending to the needs of Rafik Hariri University Hospital is a top priority for the ministry.”
He further denied the political considerations of which the hospital speaks.
The Ministry’s source insists: “The employees’ objections are shared by public sector staff in general; it is not a problem unique to the Ministry of Health.”