Pandemic brings angry patients and visitors to hospitals in Latvia

Health care institutions in Latvia have observed an increase in encounters with disgruntled and confrontational patients and visitors, Latvian Radio reported October 28.

The growing uncertainty about when the COVID-19 situation will end is increasingly depressing and annoying. Psychotherapists are not surprised by the outraged reactions of people in healthcare institutions at present, indicating being restrained at this time not only physically, but also emotionally is causing tension.

Recently, the renewed restrictions and internal rules imposed by the Rīga East Clinical University Hospital, reducing the ability of relatives to visit patients, have led to increasing aggression by hospital visitors.

Agrita Junkere, head of the East Hospital's customer service department, expressed surprise at the increasingly aggressive behavior of patients and especially patients' relatives.

“We are surprised by those people with their attitude of the moment; when they come to us, people are blatantly demonstrating their disobedience to these hospital requirements.

Very often it leads arguments and even threats,” Junkere said.

The hospital is aware that each may have their own opinions and the right to be dissatisfied, but national and hospital safety requirements should be respected. There are several guards now working at the hospital, who also help to clarify the hospital's internal rules to the dissatisfied visitors.

Paula Stradiņa Clinical University Hospital is in a better situation - the hospital's spokeswoman, Janita Veinberga, said that not as much aggression as worry and uncertainty was felt.

"At the moment, there is no such frustration about these restrictions, but of course, guards are also working in all the centers, in cooperation with the security of the hospital, which helps to ease this tension. We have recorded two, three cases of very concerned and perhaps slightly aggressive visitors,” Veinberga said.

Grigorijs Semjonovs, head of Daugavpils regional hospital, said that more aggressive and nervous patients have been observed already since March, when Latvia first encountered COVID-19.

“There is a feeling that there is a negative attitude towards medical practitioners. Against the way the medical treatment process is ensured.

Mostly, people don't want to understand why they can't visit a relative. There is confusion about internal algorithms, about masks,” Grigorijs Semjonovs said.

Artūrs Utināns, a psychotherapist at Rīga Stradiņš University's Psychosomatic Health and Psychotherapy Clinic, explained that people are limited to many desires and opportunities at this time and can therefore react more aggressively.

“With the COVID-19 situation, people perceive that their freedom is being suppressed, someone may be offended that their authority is being challenged. A person has some desire but someone stands in their way. And then they are angry that you don't let me do what I want,” said Utināns.

Utināns also said that, in these circumstances, when a lot is limited, people can explain the situation to themselves as malignant - that it is not a dangerous situation causing this but someone's evil desire. 

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