STA, 4 August 2020 - Thirteen public health institutions and a private concessionaire have received the much-discussed ventilators Siriusmed R30 ordered through Geneplanet. Although the Health Ministry decided in May that they could be kept only if additional equipment is supplied to make them suitable for Covid-19 patients only two hospitals received this equipment.
The EUR 8 million contract with company Geneplanet for the purchase of 220 ventilators Siriusmed R30 was rescinded in May following allegations of favourable treatment and doubts about the suitability of the ventilators for use on Covid-19 patients.
Experts said at the time that Siriusmed R30 was suitable for use on Covid-19 patients provided a compressor and an air humidifier with heated pipes are supplied additionally.
After the contract was terminated, Geneplanet had to return EUR 5.2 million for 130 ventilators to the Commodity Reserves Agency, and the agency told the STA it had received the money on 15 May.
Since 110 ventilators have already been delivered to the Commodity Reserves Agency, the ministry decided to keep 90 of them under the condition that additional equipment be delivered, and return 20.
Since then, the agency has distributed 20 ventilators to the UKC Ljubljana and Maribor hospitals, with each receiving 10, while 20 went to the Celje hospital.
The remaining 70 ventilators were given to the Administration for Civil protection and Disaster Relief, which has distributed 49 of them to ten hospitals. Twenty were returned to Geneplanet.
The most, 11 ventilators, went to the Murska Sobota general hospital, the Ptuj hospital received seven, the Topolšica hospital six, while the hospitals in Nova Gorica, Trbovlje and Jesenice received five each. Another four went to Slovenj Gradec, three to Izola, two to Brežice and one to Sežana.
One ventilator was given to the Bitenc clinic, a private clinic with concession operating within the Golnik hospital, which is one of the hospitals treating Covid-19 patients.
This could prove to be controversial, as the act on investments in public health institutes stipulates that the state must invest in the medical and non-medical equipment of public not private health institutions.
The founder of the clinic, surgeon Marko Bitenc, told the STA the clinic had requested the ventilator because its patients with lung cancer get transferred after surgery to the intensive care unit of the Golnik hospital, and by having their own ventilator a potential spread of the infection would be prevented.
Bitenc said the ventilator had been supplied to the clinic without a contract, so he is not sure whether the clinic now owns it or it is there only on loan.
It was the Health Ministry that had made the list of the institutions that will receive the ventilators but due to summer leave it remains unclear what criteria was used and why a ventilator was also supplied to a private concessionaire.
The Commodity Reserves Agency was also to supply the additional equipment to go with the ventilators but then decided that health institutions have to purchase it themselves.
The Murska Sobota and UKC Ljubljana hospitals received the additional equipment for the ventilators, but other hospitals have not. The Murska Sobota hospital said it had received all additional equipment and UKC Ljubljana received air humidifiers.
The director of the Brežice hospital, Anica Hribar, told the STA that the hospital was using Siriusmed R30 only for non-invasive ventilation, for which it was appropriate without additional equipment. The hospital has other ventilators available for the more difficult cases, she added.
The Celje hospital said ventilators Siriusmed R30 were appropriate for Covid-19 patients and other patients given that the hospital always used the tube system with filters that prevent infections.