COLLECTIVE (Romania)*CUT TO THE CHASE*
NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Alex
In October 2015, a fire broke out at the “Colectiv” club in Bucharest, Romania, instantly killing 27 people in and injuring 180. Outraged at the lack of fire exits, people took to the streets to protest the corruption and lack of accountability, forcing the Social Democratic government to resign. To calm the angry populace, a temporary technocrat government was put in place for one year until the next general election.
37 more victims of the fire die in hospitals over the next several months, leading to more outrage about the lack of healthcare and the mismanaging of their care by the hospitals, who seemed to have many errors in care that led to more unnecessary deaths. The hospitals made statements that all necessary means were being met and everything was going fine, which clearly was untrue.
Local journalists at the ‘Sports Gazette’ begin investigating the mismanaging by hospitals. Sources tell them that many patients died of bacterial infections and that their hospitals were never safe for burn victims. The journalists begin investigating the disinfectants used at the hospitals, suspecting they are diluted per a source’s intel. The documents provided state otherwise, so they take the solutions and get them tested.
The testing confirms that the disinfectants given to the hospitals have been diluted to ten percent of what they’re supposed to be. They go to publish the story about the company, Hexi Pharma, and how it falsified the disinfectants and also how the government did nothing to check or protect from this gross injustice – and in fact lied about it, in fact. The minister of health orders investigations into the situation since Hexi Pharma supplies over 200 hospitals.
Catalin Tolontan, one of the journalists, goes on television to discuss the investigation and the lies from the government. The Ministry of Health has a press conference where they state the disinfectants were effective in 95 percent of cases, only five percent was diluted, and that every one of their patients is safe. The minister of health dodges all the press questions and is dismissive of their insistence of facts, evidence, and proof. They have their own tests stating otherwise, and the minister says their tests must come from unaccredited labs. He goes on TV and repeats that the products are 95 percent effective.
The journalists continue forward, and Tolontan finds a source who has been giving the intelligence service briefings since 2008 who sends the Gazette the documents. The source had been telling the service for years that the bacterial infections were killing people and what the cause was. The service knew about the problem and did nothing. The Gazette publishes the story. Protests continue over the corruption and lack of protection.
The minister of health resigns and leaves the press briefing without taking any questions. Police begin investigating Hexi Pharma – while the Gazette investigates the head of Hexi Pharma, Dan Condrea, and finds offshore accounts full of money – they discover an entire scheme where he sells diluted products to Hexi at inflated prices, then uses the money to bribe the government. Rich people get richer while people die in hospitals. A criminal investigation into Condrea begins.
The government announces at a press conference that they have tested the Hexi products and that they are all diluted. Tolontan asks about the five percent that the minister of health claimed previously, and they claim they can’t speak to that. Shortly after, Dan Condrea is killed in a car crash. No one is sure if it is an accident, murder, or suicide. The paper suspects he was killed because he could have named all the sources in government and health that he bribed.
The new minister of health, Vlad – a former patient rights activist – has a press conference, and announces he intends to be transparent and open with the public. Tolontan appears on television where a journalist accuses him of suspecting a conspiracy, implying that hundreds of hospital managers were bribed. They accuse his investigation of leading Condrea to commit suicide. Tolontan holds firm to his positions, explaining that he is only after the truth.
Vlad continues working in his new position, trying to improve the system. He is very frustrated that Hexi products are not being immediately removed. He wants to investigate every regulation for approving these biocides and get to the bottom of it, much to the consternation of his advisors, who keep pointing out bureaucratic blockades. Meanwhile, the Gazette finds a patient in a hospital with literal maggots in his wound. Their source, a frustrated doctor explains that there are countless continual deaths and lack of disinfecting, and poor blood transfusions.
Vlad doesn’t want to shut down the hospital, he thinks it’s rash and that the hospital can still treat burn victims. He contacts the hospital to inquire about the patient and finds he died the night previous. He has a press conference where he says that this has been a horrible oversight and the hospital is being relocated. A journalist asks about the poor medical care, and Vlad encourages the press not to blame the entire staff.
The disgruntled doctor meets with Vlad, and details how the hospital management avoided the problems and did nothing while patients were dying. She says that hospitals treated patients as inhuman, covering living patients faces. She says that bribes run rampant – doctors bribing supervisors to get to floors where doctors are given more bribes. Vlad is horrified and wonders how it got so bad. He is at a loss at how to solve this horrible systemic problem.
One of the Colectiv victims, Tedy, who is majorly disfigured is fitted for a robotic hand. She does a series of portraits of herself and attends the art opening, where the public also is able to see the damage to her body in so many photos. Vlad meets with Tedy and other victims and tells them the ministry has allocated funds to get them treatment abroad if needed, and that the burn hospital has been completely renovated. They demand answers about what happened with the previous administration, and Vlad tells them the truth – that administration did not want to pay for them to get treatment abroad, and hospitals delayed approving such treatments, leading to many deaths.
Vlad insists on extremely strict regulations for any new hospital managers. He meets with his team about trying to break down the corrupt hospital system and the horrific management, many of whom bribed their way into their positions. It proves extremely difficult since the entire system is rotten to its core. One advisor says that trying to get these managers to comply with the regulations would be like “teaching a pig to dance”.
Meanwhile, the Gazette has obtained audio of one such hospital manager being completely abusive and incompetent. The Gazette also discovers how he created fake invoices to steal funds. One used the stolen funds to build another clinic in Switzerland that is generating more revenue. With the amount of money stolen, a state of the art hospital could have been built. Tens of millions of Euros. The Gazette publishes the story, and the hospital manager faces criminal charges.
Vlad pushes through the regulations for hospital managers despite extreme pushback from many sides, with some spinning it as him pushing out local managers to give foreign managers jobs. Vlad also goes to the anti-corruption delegate to try to get a system in place for hospital whistle-blowers. He announces his initiative that hospital managers can no longer be affiliated with a political party.
After learning a hospital faked their transplant certification under political pressure, he announces his policy to send transplant patients abroad (despite some hospitals in Romania saying they can handle transplants) is met with anger from some press who don’t see why patients who need transplants cannot have them if the hospital says it is equipped. The mayor of Bucharest demands he resume transplants. He plans to go public with the information of the hospital falsifying their accreditation, but his source refuses to go public, saying it will put all their accreditation into question, which Vlad says is the point.
Vlad meets with Tedy and confesses that he has learned the whole system is rotten, and that no one cares. He is afraid that with the upcoming election, if people do not vote, the social democrats will win and everything will go back to exactly how it was before. The mayor continues to attack Vlad on television, claiming he is just trying to send business to his former home in Austria. Election day arrives – voter turnout is low, and the social democrats sweep the election and have a huge majority. Vlad’s father is irate, wondering how this could happen, and tells Vlad he should go back to Vienna because there he can actually help people, and that Romania is a lost cause.
Mirela, one of the journalists, is approached by someone from intelligence who tells her that the journalists should be careful and worry about their families. She is told they are dealing with the worst mobsters. She tells the rest of the staff. The mayor appoints a hospital manager who is unqualified and legally unable to manage a hospital. Families of the victims continue to mourn.
In October 2015, a fire broke out at the "Colectiv" club in Bucharest, Romania, instantly killing 27 people in and injuring 180. Many of the injured victims die in hospitals in the months after. The people are angry and begin protesting.
Journalists discover that the many of the patients died of bacterial infections, and begin investigating, discovering that the disinfectants sold to hospitals are diluted, and that the government knew and did nothing. The minister of health is fired, and a new administrator, Vlad, is appointed. Vlad discovers how corrupt the medical system is, how managers are unqualified and bribes are constantly being paid.
Meanwhile, the journalists discover a hospital manager embezzling money from the hospital while people continue to die. When the election comes, the party that is responsible for the corruption and all the problems with the medical field sweep, meaning all the change Vlad tried to implement will likely be short-lived. The journalists continue to report, though they are warned that they are dealing with mobsters of the highest order.