Hippocratic millionaires. Who of the white coats will lose from the reform?
Lexus, Mercedes, 2 thousand square meters of real estate in the capital and millions of UAH in cash. All of this is not about MPs or ministers. These are the declarations of the Chief Physicians of central and district hospitals.
There are two stereotypes in Ukraine which are surprisingly self-excluding. First one is that all doctors are poor, the second one is that no one has ever seen a poor Chief Physician. The problem lies in the fact that during the construction of a Soviet healthcare system the ideology was simple: state funds should cover only basic financing of hospitals, so a good doctor should know how to earn a living because patients will share.
The Soviet Union has long gone, but its ideology remains. Despite Chief Physicians’ small salaries, many of them live quite a luxurious life. There are luxurious cars, houses with swimming pools, millions in cash, and what’s most interesting income from pharmaceutical companies and distributors.
In the Ukrainian medical sphere, there is the same social gap between very poor and very rich as in the whole country. We almost don’t have “middle class” doctors who exist only in private healthcare institutions or Kyiv clinics. In fact, we have a Chief Physician’s “elite” – governing healthcare institutions and managing budgets with hundreds of millions UAH with low salaries. Who under such circumstances will stand the temptation to earn more? They earn on everything, from procurement of drugs, cleaning or other goods and services for the hospital to employment opportunities, and what’s most important, contributions paid by patients through charity foundations or directly in the form of “gratitude” to doctors. However, sometimes such gratitude is nothing but a direct extortion of a certain amount of money for surgery according to the “fee”, established by the doctor.
Very often such positions are inherited. One does not have to be a genius surgeon or an oncologist in order to receive access to a surgery room. Usually, it is enough to have a practising father or a certain amount of money. Then you will quickly defend you PhD, receive a number of scientific papers still being young – and what’s most important – you will get access to an operating room which in fact is the source of those sacred earnings. According to the research of the World Health Organization, it is only every third Chief physician who could explain the procedure of hospital staff selection. Why? Because this is another corrupt scheme Chief physicians earn money on. Just remember what the ex-Deputy Minister of Healthcare Roman Vasylishyn, who had worked before as a Chief Physician of Zhovtneviy Hospital in Kyiv, was arrested for? For a simple bribe for employment in the hospital. According to the Prosecutor General, ex-chief physician was receiving 50-100 thousand UAH worth bribes daily.
Medical system that is now being protected from “reforms” by renowned doctors is just another source of income and part of corrupt schemes that the majority is suffering and minority having profits from.
With the new law on electronic declarations Chief Physicians have to declare their assets. There are enough published declarations of chief physicians of medical establishments in order to understand why so many renowned doctors are against reforms of the old Soviet system.
Their declarations are not very different from those published by officials. Everything is the same: mothers on retirement or wives doing business, successful children studying in Universities and low salaries that would not even be enough to sustain the listed property.
Rich mothers-in-law and mothers
Doctors, as we see, choose the similar to many state officials way: most of them are “indigent”, however their wives, parents, mothers-in-law are successful business people with plenty of real property and elite cars.
See, for example, a humble chief physician of a municipal of the city of Lviv, Mr. Oliynyk Yuriy Ilarionovych who has only 75 thousand UAH of income for the last year. It is a rhetoric question about how he manages to tank a 5.0L SUV Lexus. His parents, on the contrary, have quite huge assets as for the pensioners. His mother owns three offices with the total area of 343 sq. meters, and his father owns a 912 sq. meter house. The family has to 5 cars which are mainly SUVs and crossovers with the most luxurious of them – SUV Lexus – being registered nevertheless on Yuriy Ilarionovych.
Ex-Chief Sanitary Doctor of Kyiv Oleg Ruban also has a quite successful wife. After the “reform” he was promoted and is now managing not only the State Sanitary and Epidemiological Service of Ukraine but also the unified State Service of Ukraine on Food Safety and Consumer Protection in Kyiv. His wife a 350 sq. meter house in the suburbs of Kyiv, that’s besides three apartments owned by his family. A land plot of 1 hectare in the village Velyki Dmytrovichy in Obukhiv district is also registered on his wife. A 100 sq. meters of land in that area 1 000 USD. Both cars in the family – an SUV Toyota Prado and Toyota Rav 4 – also belong to his wife.
It is strange because having worked for more than 18 years as an obstetrician-gynecologist the wife of a Sanitary Doctor of Kyiv, Ms. Yana Ruban, copes with medical practice and runs a very successful business judging from the assets of the family. She owns around eight companies which mainly deal with ecological safety, cleaning and waste disposal, namely the issues that are controlled by the State Sanitary and Epidemiological Service. For example, “Center for Ecological Security and Hygiene” Llc, co-owned by the wife of the Chief Sanitary Doctor, more than 100 orders for removal and disposal of waste from hospitals and municipal enterprises for the last couple of years. It’s worth mentioning that there are relatives of colleagues of her husband among the co-owners of some companies. Thus, for example, Ruban’s wife forgot to declare a company “Project Bureau “Architec 2006” Llc, that she owns together with the son of ex-deputy of Ruban Mr. Podkovirniy Vladislav Mykolayovych. His mother, Ms. Podkovirna Zhanna Ivanivna, has worked all her life as a civil servant and has been a subordinate of Mr. Ruban at the State Sanitary and Epidemiological Service for quite a long time. In 2015, she was his deputy. Then she has been transferred together with Mr. Ruban to the “reformed” service and the observance of sanitary legislation there.
The most amazing are the families of doctors where both doctors receiving very low salaries start having hectares of land, apartments and elite cars.
For example, the Georgiev’s family. He is the, she is the . He owns a Toyota Rav 4 that costs around 1 million UAH, she has BMW X6. With quite a small income the family of doctors, besides elite cars, also declared a land plot in Crimea, offices, garages, trading places, apartments, and a house of 160 sq. meters.
Chief Physician of Vinnitsa City Clinical Hospital №1, known as “Pyrogovka”, Mr. Olexander Turskiy, also has a similar declaration. He and his wife, Galyna Turska, also a 4 land plots with a total area of more than 2,7 ha, an apartment with 123 sq. meters, a house under construction and, of course, a Lexus SUV.
Noteworthy is also a of a Chief Physician of Kyiv City Clinical Endocrinology Center, Mr. Mykola Vasyliovych Gulchiy. Especially noticeable are the cars belonging to him and his wife, who works as a Deputy Director of the Marzeev Institute of Hygiene and Medical Ecology under the Academy of Medical Science, namely Mercedes SUV, that based on the declaration was bought brand new from a car dealer in 2013, and a crossover BMW X3. And even though a Chief Physician did not indicate the price of cars, but the Mercedes bought in 2013 produced in the same year would have cost minimum 70 thousand USD.
All family members, besides the son-in-law who is in military, of a Chief Physician of Prykarpatskiy Oncologic Dispensary Mr. Romanchuk Volodymir are also doctors and, as strange as it may seem, also work in the same oncologic dispensary. This the main job for his wife, daughter is working there part-time. Having low salaries, the family can afford to have an almost 300 sq. meter house, and quite expensive cars, bought from a car dealer, namely BMW 528 and Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, worth at least 40 thousand USD each.
It is not only the Chief Physicians of district and local hospitals who earn a lot, but also not permanent staff under the state structures.
For example, Chief obstetrician-gynecologist of Kyiv region Andriy Shutka, whose wife also works in the sphere of “mother and child care”, several business-class cars, Volkswagen Touаreg and BMW 740, as well as an apartment that was bought several years ago valued nearly 1,5 million UAH.
Another interesting family of doctors from Kharkiv is the Pasieshvili-Karpenko;s. She is the Chief Physician of the regional perinatal Center, he is dealing with disaster medicine and works at the Institute of Post-Graduate Studies. Both have worked life-long on state positions. Nevertheless, they both money for the house of 500 sq. meters and several apartments. The family of the Chief Physician Nana Merabivna Pasieshvilli and her husband Karpenko Volodymir Gennadiyovych has Toyota Land Cruiser and Merсedes.
Viktoria Bila, a chief physician of the Perinatal Center of Kyiv, has a husband-businessman Ihor Bilyi who is trading pharmaceuticals. She declared 2 000 sq. meters of real property in Kyiv and it’s not surprising because it looks like her husband’s business goes pretty good. He is one of the co-owners of the company distributing pharmaceuticals of “Galapharm”, that was already engaged in the concerning the inflated prices during public procurement of pharmaceuticals. For the last 9 years, the husband’s company has been with tenders worth 158 million UAH.
Besides that, on the territory of the Center itself there is , another distributing company which are business-partners of Bila’s husband, namely Volodymir Ryzhei and Valentyn Krukovskiy. In general, Ihor Biliy, husband of the Chief Physician, besides “Galapharm” also is the co-owner of other seven companies most of which are also affiliated with the pharmaceutical business.
The Chief Physician of Vinnitsa Oncologic Dispensary is in a similar situation. Last year, the family of Volodymir Shamrai around 3,5 million UAH. Even though his wife works in the same dispensary receiving 4 000 UAH per month, she also has a quite successful business, which final beneficiary is the Chief physician himself. The wife’s company provides diagnostic services in the neighboring building to the oncological dispensary. Is it worth mentioning that the equipment, particularly the diagnostic one, is usually not available in the state hospitals and patients are being forwarded to private institutions for diagnosis?
However, another fact is also interesting. Despite the successful business of his wife, the Chief Physician receives quite big amounts of money from pharmaceutical companies. Thus, it is only for the last year that pharmaceutical companies paid Mr. Shamrai more than 700 thousand UAH. And all of them are for the drugs for treating patients suffering from cancer.
Millionaires against the reform
There are lots of such examples. If one looks through the declaration of Chief Physicians of big central clinics or clinics subordinated to the Academy of Science, he or she will be impressed even more.
One of the keyBorys Todurov, together with his wife around 427 000 USD in cash, as well as a 685 sq. meter house, two apartments in Kyiv with total area of 247,8 sq. meters, four land plots and two cars, Audi A8 and Hyundai Tucson, which he has recently registered on his daughter. There have been already several of the fact that his institute buys pharmaceuticals at inflated prices and the tender committee is being controlled by the business-partner of his wife.
Another of a reform is Deputy Chief Physician of the Institute of Neurosurgery of the Academy of Science, Andriy Guk. Unfortunately, according to the law, he was not obliged to submit a declaration but his superior Chief Physician of the Institute of Neurosurgery, Pedachenko Evgeniy Georgiyovych, had to. Mr.Pedachenko together with his wife five land plots, two houses, one of which is located in the suburbs of Kyiv and has 400 sq. meters, two apartments, one of which is located in Crimea, and an elite car Audi Q7. The family declared around 100 000 USD in cash for two members. And all this was allegedly earned during years of work in the healthcare system with extremely low salaries of doctors and medical personnel.
It’s another fact that’s interesting. Mr. Pedachenko probably didn’t know what he would have to declare when he has been receiving a reward from pharmaceutical companies (namely the pharmaceutical company «Takeda») that now has to be declared by doctors, and such cases aren’t rare.
The declaration of the Director of the Shalimov Institute of Transplantation Surgery of the National Academy of Medicine Sciences of Ukraine is even more impressive. Its Director Mr. Olexander Usenko, that he borrowed to an unknown person almost half a million dollars. Together with his wife he owns three houses in the suburbs of Kyiv (239 sq. meters, 292 sq. meters and 298 sq. meters respectively), two apartments total of 243,9 sq.meters and three cars, Volkswagen Amarok of 2013, Toyota Hilux of 1996 and Toyota Rav-4 of 2013. Besides that, Mr. Usenko has three land plots and together with his wife declared 192 000 USD in cash.
How did it happen that de-jure poor chief physicians turn out to be sometimes richer than most of the MPs and politicians? Why do chief physicians live luxurious lives at the time when doctors in hospitals and polyclinics earn a penny?
In fact, there is the same gap in the medical sphere as it is the whole country. We have “medical elite” of chief physicians where one can often get into by inheritance. Look at the family of Borys Toduriv. A wife, a daughter, and a son are all doctors. The daughter has already received a PhD and works in the father’s institute. The son also studies to become a neurosurgeon.
In practice, chief physicians and academics are that very “elite” who are the first to make statements against the reform that envisages introduction of official payments thus eliminating black cash in hospitals. And judging from their declarations they have something to lose. It’s another thing that’s even worse. Many MPs and political elite have “passed” through clinics of these doctors, treated their relatives there and, thus, are ready to further boycott the health care reform covering it up with populist statements, discussions and creation of working groups while the corrupt machine continues to work and bring more wealth for the selected few.