The pandemic Sarajevo way: how to stay well informed?

Author: Merima Uštović – Kapetanović 

Uprising pandemic in early 2020th, open old/new problems in Bosnian medical care system. Path of the Patient was term commonly used among our medical chiefs when they, on their long press conferences, were explaining how to get proper care if you have symptoms of coronavirus. Briefly, you should call your family doctor who will explain to you your next step. You should do that by phone, and not come in person. But what when nobody answers on your calls? If you Google term Path of the Patient coronavirus, it will open the main page of The Health Centre of the Sarajevo Canton and some old articles which have these words inside. 

When you open the main page of Health Center, in link Procedures you fill find another link with text Path of the Patient for Testing on Coronavirus in the Canton Sarajevo. When you click it, it shows 404 Error. Director of Emergency Medical Aid in the  Canton Sarajevo, Adem Zahilić, in August 2020th said that path of the patient who is infected with corona virus is completely defined, but until the day of writing this article you cannot find anything online which will help you to find out more. Contacting your public family doctor by the phone was the hardest part of getting your diagnosis even before pandemic. 

Why nobody said that to the patient?

On Monday, March 14th, I felt tired, it was like I was hiking on snow for the last two days without pause. During that day I felt like my head is in a bubble, but often I’ve had sinus infection and during the weekend I was riding a bike with my toddler so that could be it. On Tuesday I felt like my hips and back are having their own temperature but, that is normal, for months I haven’t ridden a bike. During the night, fever started. In Wednesday early morning I try to get my family doctor, but line was constantly busy, or when it rings nobody answers. 

On Thursday we tried to get family doctor, and we call all private ambulances, but nobody can give sick leave except our family practice, so we decided to stay home and get our doctor. We also found the number of COVID call center, but their line was also busy all day. In early Friday morning, it rang, and the nicest doctor on call center line answered the phone. I told her my symptoms and that none of my contacts are sick, or thinking that they are sick. But she explained to me that nobody knows how they got infected and I need to do PCR test. We went and waited in the row to get tested, and during the same night via Viber message we got two negative PCR test. Both of them, my son and husband, didn’t have any symptoms, but I was collapsing with temperature that doesn’t go under 38.1 degrees. I was sleeping whole Saturday. My bones were in pain; head and hips were on fire and felt like my throat is itchy. I had those symptoms earlier when I’d be lucky and had sore throat and sinus infection together, but in pandemic, you are scared. On Sunday, my temperature went back to 37.5 and I felt much better but now I was thinking that I got false negative test. 

So during Monday we tried to get again somebody on the phone. In Tuesday morning I found some number for complaints so I called it, and hero of the day answered. I told her my situation and she explained me that I needed to get tested again and if nobody called me three hours from then that I contact her again. Three and a half hours later I called her again and she politely told me that then I needed to wait again but if nobody contacedt me after half an hour, I should call again. I waited for 45 minutes, and she picked up the phone, visibly annoyed. She called somebody, and yelled asking why nobody had called me whole morning and on the other side, some woman said that they had sent referrals for blood sampling, RTG of the lungs and another PCR test. 

Covid ambulance and no information 

It was 14:15 when I sat in the car and went to the COVID ambulance, it was snowing. I stood in the line with 12 more people. About half past four I finally came inside. Young male, in full medical equipment told me that they’d had death case so they were still waiting for the prosecutor to come to pick up the body. While I was trying to catch some warmth inside, I saw a young female in full equipment, with colorful scarf on hair. She was not walking, she was running among the other patients, taking blood samples, measuring the temperature and taking PCR tests. 

At 17:10 they told me to go inside the doctor’s office, and wait for a doctor. I sat on the chair and tried not to collapse, but when that young woman with colorful scarf came inside and told me that she was a doctor, I felt like my day was all rainbow and sun. So, she told me that even if my contacts were not having coronavirus symptoms it didn’t mean that I wasn’t sick. And that my previous test could have been falsely negative, but the sad thing was that the lab was not working since 17:00 so I needed to come again tomorrow and that I would be lucky to do my blood samples. I did RTG and another PCR test and they told me to call my ambulance for two hours from then to find out results. I came home and called until automatic phone secretary told me that I could call again at 7:30 in the morning. 


Somebody finally picked up the phone 

In Wednesday early morning I got another negative PCR test result via Viber message and I took the phone to find out how are my lungs. Phone was ringing, and nurse of my family doctor answered! When I told her my name, automatically, she started explaining how their phone was ringing nonstop so it was impossible to answer on all of the calls. I asked her for my doctor, and she told me that I would receive a phone call soon. Sometime around noon my phone rang, it was my family doctor! She told me good news that I didn’t have anything on my lungs and told me to call her on Friday to update her about my condition.

Today is Monday, March 29th. I didn’t get my family doctor on the phone to tell her that doctor from a private practice had a look at my throat, because with two negative tests and with contacts that don’t have any symptoms, I was not coronavirus infected. I have sore throat and sinus infection. I’ve also done antigen test and it was negative. Like professor Sebija Izetbegović, General Director of the Clinical Center of University of Sarajevo said on interview from august 2020: Our Path of the Patient is bad… and we need urgent reform of that part of public medical care system. Seven month after this statement, I will modestly add that people are dying because of the complications on the coronavirus Path of the Patient.