How are Russians treated in Germany

Will Germany accept corona patients from Russia?

"If there is a bottleneck in Russia, I am very much in favor of caring for patients from Russia. We have the capacity for this," said Matthias Kochanek, head of internal intensive care medicine at Cologne University Hospital, the DW. The clinic has around 120 intensive care beds, but there are currently no patients with COVID-19 who need artificial ventilation. According to the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive and Emergency Medicine (DIVI), of the more than 30,000 intensive care beds in Germany, only a little more than half are occupied.

So far, according to a decision at the federal level, only corona patients from the EU countries Italy, Spain, France, Belgium and the Netherlands can be brought to Germany for treatment. Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn emphasized at the end of April: "Germany pays the treatment costs, that is our understanding of European solidarity." The ministry put the alleged costs at up to 20 million euros. North Rhine-Westphalia was one of the first federal states to accept corona patients from Italy. The experiences were positive for both the patients and the hospital staff, reports Matthias Kochanek.

Corona outbreak in Russia

In addition to Cologne, the Bonn University Hospital is also ready to accept patients from Russia. Wolfgang Holzgreve, the clinic's medical director and chairman of the board, said that patients from Russia and the countries of the former Soviet Union would normally be treated again and again. However, due to the applicable Corona restrictions, no patients from Russia can currently enter Germany.

Wolfgang Holzgreve is open to patients from Russia

In Russia, the number of corona infections has increased rapidly within a very short time. Most of the cases are in the capital Moscow. According to government information, over 360,000 people have tested positive for the virus across the country and more than 3,000 have died. In no other country in Europe are there as many sick people as in Russia.

Initiative of German federal states

In view of the developments in Russia, the Prime Minister of Saxony Michael Kretschmer recently told the news portal "Der Spiegel": "It would be a strong signal from the European Union if we would also treat patients from Russia with us." This should actually be a matter of course. "We are trying to help in Europe as a whole. And I think we should show solidarity with Russia," said the Prime Minister.

According to Kretschmer, the Governing Mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller, also offered the treatment of Russian corona patients. He told the newspaper "Tagesspiegel": "I have also submitted an offer to our twin city Moscow. So far there has been no reaction, but I am still open to it." A request from DW to the city of Moscow and the Russian Foreign Ministry regarding the offer from Berlin and Saxony has also remained unanswered.

Over 360,000 people have been infected with the coronavirus in Russia

There are currently no offers from other federal states. A spokeswoman for the state chancellery of North Rhine-Westphalia told DW that the state had "accepted COVID-19 patients from particularly affected regions in Italy and France as well as from the neighboring Netherlands as a gesture of European solidarity after examining its own capacities." A corresponding official request from the Russian government has not yet been received, according to the State Chancellery.

Who would pay for the treatment?

The willingness to help is great, but it is unclear who is responsible for questions about the treatment offer. Sebastian Gülde, spokesman for the Federal Ministry of Health, recently said at a press conference that "the initiatives for the treatment of foreign patients, now especially from Russia, come from the federal states themselves, so the federal states are also responsible for questions about them". Among other things, the hospitals themselves would have to clarify how many ventilation beds could be made available for patients from abroad.

But the German hospitals also have to clarify the financing of a treatment. As a rule, this is done individually with a foreign patient or with his insurance company. There is a lot of money involved. "Two weeks in an intensive care unit with artificial ventilation do not cost tens of thousands, but hundreds of thousands of euros per patient," said Konstantin Virko of the German company Germed, which has been active in the medical tourism sector for many years, to DW. However, Virko doubts that the German authorities will be willing to cover the treatment costs for corona patients from Russia, as has happened for patients from some EU countries.

Most of the Russian patients Germed works with pay their bills in Germany themselves. Some get help from foundations. But there are also patients who are treated at the expense of the Russian Defense Ministry or Ministry of Health, such as the Russian dancer and former head of the Bolshoi Ballet, Sergei Filin. He was brought to rehab in Aachen after an acid attack. Previous practice has shown, according to Virko, that the German authorities do not cover treatment costs.