Maksim Acharetni speaks about dismissal and work in Odesa.
At the end of April, Maksim Acharetni, who at that time was the Chief of Medicine at the #3 children's hospital in Minsk, was urgently summoned to the Health Committee of the Minsk City Executive Office. Why - the doctor guessed. He put on a good suit, a tie - and off he went. The officials reported that Maksim Acharetni was fired. Officially - by agreement of the parties (although the doctor had a contract in force until 2022). In words, the doctor recalls, they explained: for the signature in support of Viktar Babaryka during the election campaign. Now Acharetni, who has helped hundreds of Belarusian children, works in Ukraine. His story is told by the Reflection blog. We are sharing this text.
In Minsk, Maksim Acharetni headed the intensive care unit of the children's infectious diseases hospital for 12 years, and then headed the #3 children's hospital for two years. The doctor has been living in Ukraine for six months. Here he is an ordinary anesthesiologist-resuscitator in one of the private clinics in Odesa. The first month, he recalls, while the issues with documents were being resolved and he was not allowed to see the patients alone, “it was unbearable: you go to work and do nothing”. After legalization, everything changed.
- I work every day from 8.00 to 17.00, plus duty. There will be seven of them this month, including weekends. In Belarus, I worked only with children, but here I have a whole contingent of patients, so I have to raise my knowledge of working with adults - read literature, protocols. I come home and, as in my youth, sit down to read books, - Maksim Acharetni speaks about the peculiarities of his work. - Of course, I would bring no less benefit, especially considering COVID-19, in Minsk. But since Belarusian medicine does not need me, I will treat Ukrainians.
There are 14 Belarusian doctors in the hospital where Maksim Acharetni works. Among them there is a gynecologist, an allergist, pediatricians, and a radiologist. Everyone moved to Odesa in 2021.
- The clinic does business and cares about its reputation. They need fresh ideas, people with a different understanding of the problem. I think that's why they invite doctors from different regions. In addition to Belarusians, there are many doctors from the eastern regions of Ukraine and Crimea, - the interlocutor argues and notes: the institution has very good management. - If they need a specialist, they go to the doctors and ask if there is, for example, someone in Minsk who wants to work in their hospital. Then find out who the recommended doctor is. If it turns out that he or she is a competent specialist, they immediately call them on good terms. So it was with me. The hospital decided to develop children's medical care. When information about my dismissal appeared in the media and social networks, the doctors told the head physician about me, and he called me that very evening. On April 30, I resigned, and on May 8 I came to them for an interview. I liked their proposal more than that of my colleagues from Georgia, and at the beginning of June I got down to work.
- Why did you decide to leave Belarus?
-When I was fired, the Health Committee of the Minsk City Executive Office told me: don't try looking for a job here, they won't take you anywhere,” Maksim Acharetni reports that conversation. - I didn’t even ask my colleagues from state clinics about vacancies, I didn’t want to set anyone up. I looked in private clinics. During interviews, they told me: “It's great that you came, let's work for that kind of money,” and they named the amount that did not suit me. I can assume that they deliberately offered a small salary so that I refused.
- When, let's say, doctors Andrei Vitushka and Rustam Aizatulin lost their jobs due to political reasons, you were not afraid to invite them to the staff of your hospital. Why do you think no one supported you?
- I say that I did not apply to the state healthcare institutions, and I could not help but offer a job to Andrei and Rustam. I know them well, - the interlocutor answers. - When I read Andrei’s post on Facebook (then an anesthesiologist-resuscitator of the Mother and Child Republican Scientific and Practical Center - edit.), where he wrote that the contract was not renewed with him, and asked about possible employment, I immediately called him and offered to work with me. Rustam (at that time a doctor at the Republican Scientific and Practical Center of Traumatology and Orthopedics - edit.) worked part-time with us at 0.25 rate. When he was left without a contract, I offered him a full-time job. I was aware that I was running up and my days were numbered, but I did not want to take part in the abomination that was happening. The only thing is that we agreed to do everything quietly: not to report on social networks that Andrei and Rustam now work in the hospital #3, but to do it quietly.
- Did they call you “from the above” asking why you supported these doctors?
- They only clarified if I indeed hired Andrei. I answered: “Yes,” and the conversation ended there. But there were calls from the Committee regarding dismissals. They concerned the doctors from our hospital who got caught at protests. When they told me that I should fire someone, I asked: “Why if a person works well?” In response, they asked when the contract of that person expired. As a result, they ordered to conduct individual conversations with the doctors who were caught at protests. And we talked: I did not prohibit anyone from going anywhere, but I asked - be more careful. Then I filed a formal reply that the conversation had taken place. I know there were leaders who were summoned to the Committee, but I was not. Although all these calls did not add extra days in my life either.
- How to maintain a good atmosphere in the team in such a situation?
- We just worked. Plus there was COVID-19, and we had completely different things to worry about. The only thing, when the mass leave from the trade union began, I was told to hold a meeting with the employees. I asked: “Why me? I, like everyone else, am an ordinary member of the trade union.” As a result, a representative of the city trade union committee came to us. The employees expressed all their complaints to her, but she did not stop anyone from leaving. Me neither. Only once I called a young doctor and asked: “Why?” He explained, and we did not raise this issue again.
- Did you have problems over the employees leaving the trade union en masse?
- No, but I know, they were not satisfied with me.
- How did the team take your dismissal?
- They didn't expect it. There were those who were afraid to tell me something, and about seventy people wrote to the Ministry of Health with a request not to fire me. True, I asked them not to let their letter into the matter, after all, these are my problems, and I did not want to involve them.
- How did you spend the evening after the last working day?
- I went to Hrodna for my daughter, and then we sat with friends and drank champagne.
“Now it’s also a bit of a hassle, but I am satisfied with my work”
He did not like being the head physician, says Maksim Acharetni, so he was not very upset about the dismissal. He admits that he reacted calmly to the situation that after an administrative position he again became an ordinary doctor.
- I know the job, so the adaptation was not very difficult. Of course, when I was a boss, I did not go on duties, but here I had to return to this practice. At the same time, if you are an ordinary doctor, all that is required of you is to do your job well. The shift is over - and you can leave, - says the interlocutor. - The head physician is not like this. You are responsible for everyone, they constantly call you, they ask you something, they call you somewhere. Now it’s also a bit of a hassle, but I'm happy with my work.
In Belarus, when I was in charge of the intensive care unit, I also liked everything. Probably, it was my big mistake that I agreed to the post of chief physician. I thought there would be more opportunities, and the higher, the less, it turns out.
- Because they often slap you by the hands. By agreeing to the position, I was going to develop domestic medicine. Now we are boiling in our own cauldron. Doctors can gain some new knowledge only from Russian literature. Foreign books are not very popular here, since all treatment protocols must be local. And they do not always correspond with foreign ones. It was interesting for me to introduce new methods of treatment, - Acharetni shares his unfulfilled dreams. - I wanted doctors to participate in scientific conferences. By the way, when I was an ordinary doctor, I lamented how I should go to the conference at my own expense: I learn something new, bring some experience. I wondered why the head physician wasn’t helping. And when I got to the position, I realized that hospitals simply do not have the money for this. Once I offered an accountant to advertise our paid services on one advanced site. She says: it's 2,000 rubles. We cannot afford that. It all comes down to even such amounts.
In addition, the interlocutor continues, he strove for CT and MRI rooms to appear in the #3 children's hospital, and resuscitation “would become at least at the level of the children's infectious diseases hospital.”
- When I came to the hospital #3, the X-ray room was still on an analog system, although the whole of Minsk has been working on a digital system for a long time. It is about to be launched, the rest of the ideas have stalled, says Maksim Acharetni, and we move on to the topic of COVID-19.
- When Belarus was covered by a pandemic, you became the first to start the “Stay at home” flash mob. With what thoughts do you now read the news about the coronavirus in Belarus?
- At that time, both in the Ministry of Health and in the Health Committee, people were not so scared, and they supported me. Many doctors began to upload photos with signs “Stay at home”. And what is happening now ... It's not even funny. When ads are removed in buses and shopping malls that mask mode is required ... Well, how is that?
- Why do you think the Ministry of Health changed its attitude to the pandemic in a year and a half?
- Now we have a new Minister of Health. Maybe it's connected with this. Whatever they say about Karanik (Uladzimir Karanik is the chairman of the Hrodna Regional Executive Committee, formerly the Minister of Health - edit.), he is a very competent doctor. And when he was not who he is now, he was respected.
- From my colleagues I have more than once heard how Uladzimir Karanik began the first press conference on coronavirus with the words: “Hello, colleagues” and was ready to explain in great detail the whole danger of this virus. But then the position of the Ministry of Health changed dramatically - why, how do you think?
- Man wants to survive in this system.
- Have you thought about returning to Belarus?
- I have a contract for five years, and then we'll see. I miss Belarus, I have everything there - family, friends, but after what they did to me, I will work in Belarus only if they invite me and apologize.
- You live in a city with the sea, do you often visit the coast?
- Probably been there three times during this whole period. In the summer I was very sad and preferred to spend my free time at home. And now it's cold, no time for the sea ...
- Did you have depression in connection with the move?
- I think I still have it, but in October I went to Minsk, visited my home, saw everyone, it became easier.
- Did your relatives ask you to stay?
- If you live, you need to earn money. I could, of course, work as a taxi driver or janitor, but that's not mine. I want to heal people.