While the standard of healthcare throughout the Czech Republic has been generally rising over the past two decades, some areas may be getting better than others.
Take, for instance, a Česká Lípa hospital that reportedly requires its patients to bring their own toilet paper with them upon arrival.
“If your mother is taken to the hospital by an ambulance and the first SMS that she sends after hours of nervous waiting is ‘bring me toilet paper,’ something is wrong,” Vít Vomáček, Mayor of nearby town Kravaře, told iDnes.cz.
Vomáček is peaking with personal experience regarding the issue: his 86-year-old mother was allegedly told to source her own toilet paper at the hospital, and had to reach out for help.
According to the mayor, it wasn’t an isolated issue, and it has been going on for years.
“I pointed this out to the Governor in 2016,” Vomáček says.
“[But] nothing has changed. Our fellow citizens are still required to bring their own toilet paper. It’s undignified. So we ran out of patience and got together and sent them some.”
Kravaře ran a drive for TP funds that collected around 10,000 crowns, which the town used to buy 1,600 rolls of toilet paper that it sent to the hospital.
While the hospital accepted 20 large bags containing the 1,600 rolls – its director even signed a donation contract – they made no official statement or acknowledgement of the shipment, according to Vomáček.
According to the hospital’s website, it isn’t only toilet paper that patients are required to bring. Soap, cutlery, and other personal items are also expected to be sourced by patients.
“Remember to take your personal needs (safe slippers, pajamas, cutlery) and personal hygiene items (towel, soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, washcloth, toilet paper, etc.) for hospitalization,” the hospital website clearly states.
Through a spokesperson, however, the hospital claims that this isn’t true.
“There is no problem,” spokesperson Kateřina Amrichová told iDnes.cz.
“The fact is that toilet paper is available for patients and visitors at all hospital wards and non-hospital wards, as well as in toilets freely accessible in the health center.”
According to VZP, toilet paper and other items fall under a standard hygiene package that is reimbursed by insurance companies.
“The cost of toilet paper is covered for hospitals as part of overhead, which is added to the value of the payment for the treatment day,” VZP spokesperson Oldřich Tichý says.
“It is therefore an item covered by health insurance companies. The patient only needs to bring personal hygiene items to the hospital, such as toothbrush and toothpaste, shower gel, hair shampoo.”
“However, they do not have to bring toilet paper or even incontinence aids if they suffer from incontinence. They can bring pajamas, but if they don’t have them, the hospital will give them a gown.”
While that should be the final word on the issue, it’s of little solace to Vomáček and other patients, who claim that they have been forced to bring their own toilet paper to the Česká Lípa hospital for years.