An exchange student from Portugal who was undergoing traineeship in Tallinn and went down with flu was almost left without medical treatment.
Eesti Ekspress wrote this week that the young man was in bed for two days with high fever of 39 degrees without getting any medical help. Finally, his colleagues in the place of traineeship contacted various medical clinics, infection centre and ambulance and asked them to help, but instead of helping him they suggested to try other establishments. They even contacted the ministry of foreign affairs and ministry of social affairs, all in vain. Shame on you, Estonia.
He was explained that the Estonian family physician system does not provide for clear guidelines on what to do with a foreigner who lives in Estonia and contracts flu.
Things started to move only after the case was taken over by Peeter Mardna, head of the supervisory department of the Tallinn municipal healthcare service, personally.
Mardna said that he had to tell people what and how to do. "Such a situation is unforgivable. This is tarnishing the image of our medicine when staff refuses to take responsibility for treatment of an EU citizen," he said.
One colleague of the Portugese student said that it was unlikely that the foreigner had been able to undergo the whole process himself.
A representative of the ministry of social affairs told Eesti Ekspress that the law is clear: tervishoiuteenuse korraldamise seaduse § 9 of the Health Services Organization Act says that "the service area of a family physician is an area of a local government determined by the county governor where the family physician provides general medical care to the persons residing or temporarily staying there who are not included in the practice list of the family physician. The procedure for the payment for general medical care to persons not included in the practice list of a family physician shall be established by the Minister of Social Affairs."
In other words, if a foreign contracts an illness in Estonia, he or she must contact the closest family physician or call ambulance, if necessary or call a 24-hour family physician hotline at 1220 that speaks Estonian, Russian and English.
Very well, but what would the poor foreigner in high fever do next time around when medical establishments refuse to provide medical treatment in spite of the law?