In April, Lilit received a bonus. Considering the dollar exchange rate, it was 62 dollars and 29 cents – three times less than 186 dollars which is the average salary of nurses in public clinics of Armenia. She doesn't know what will happen next month.
“There is no time to talk about the salary. Now I have to work full time, including weekends.
“In the morning, one of my managers picks me up and takes me to work. I silently sit in the back. We rarely talk, and I can’t wait until these rides are over and I’m able to take my bus again.”
Nona has been a nurse for more than 30 years. She’s recently moved to a private clinic; her salary was not paid on time in April and the management has already warned her that the salary of these months will be halved. The reason is that all the businesses of the founders have stopped working and the clinic itself can’t provide enough income to maintain the salaries of the staff. They are not yet buying the equipment, hoping they won't have to receive the infected patients. At the same time, according to hospital’s guidelines, they should receive patients who have a fever and if one of them happens to be Covid positive, nurses and doctors will be at risk.
Nona now sees that private clinics are trying to avoid getting Covid patients, as that would force the clinic to close and the government would force the clinic to pay the staff more and provide them with food, transportation, and equipment - all extra expenses.
“It’s now clear that we should not sell so many hospitals. One day you may not be able to go to the clinic of your choice, where you think you’ll be treated by better-qualified staff and caring nurses. One day you may not be able to choose the clinic, just like many people in this country, and you will have to entrust your health to the medical staff whose salary is just 400 or 500 GEL in a month and who you consider to be less qualified.”
“There are only three intensive care doctors in Fuzuli, a few kilometers from the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, and I am one of them, but the chief doctor chose a sofa over me."
A taxi travels 300 kilometers from Fuzuli district to Baku before Lala arrives home at night.
People are dying in Azerbaijan and all over the world, many people are left without jobs, and everything has turned upside down. In these circumstances, it’s kind of awkward to remember the incident she had with the chief doctor a few hours ago. Her stubbornness seemed too much – she could’ve been more patient, she could’ve survived without a new sofa in order to be able to work for the people she knew so well and loved.
After all, she has returned to Fuzuli Hospital intending to treat people during the most difficult times.
Lala, a young intensive care physician, had to travel several hours from her home in Baku every week to work the night shift at the clinic. The chief doctor had decided to move her sofa to the hall and she had to spend the night with just one bed in the room.
“I had to sit and eat in one bed. So I asked the doctor to return my sofa. He refused and added that if I didn’t like his decision, I could just leave. So, I left.”
Lala has returned to her rented apartment. Her husband's salary is already late, and he may not get paid next month. So, she is afraid she may be left without any income. She still sent her CV to the Association for the Management of Medical Territorial Units of Azerbaijan and indicated that she is ready to volunteer to treat infected patients.