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The never-ending story of Rázsochy

MORE than 30 years ago a plan was developed to build a state-of-the-art hospital in Bratislava. But what started out as an ambitious project to serve patients from across Slovakia, and also house medical students, resulted in a huge but unfinished complex which was later left to rot and has been ravaged by scavengers seeking scrap metal and other materials. Rázsochy has now returned to the spotlight after the cabinet of Prime Minister Robert Fico declared in its four-year programme that it planned to complete the medical complex, finances allowing.

Rázsochy awaits its fate.(Source: SME)

MORE than 30 years ago a plan was developed to build a state-of-the-art hospital in Bratislava. But what started out as an ambitious project to serve patients from across Slovakia, and also house medical students, resulted in a huge but unfinished complex which was later left to rot and has been ravaged by scavengers seeking scrap metal and other materials. Rázsochy has now returned to the spotlight after the cabinet of Prime Minister Robert Fico declared in its four-year programme that it planned to complete the medical complex, finances allowing.

The local media recently reported that Rázsochy has been the target of regular visits by waste collectors, i.e. people who come to strip the buildings of any materials they can sell for cash. The complex, which covers 15 hectares, was never completely fenced and the security company responsible for guarding the premises claims that it is impossible to prevent the thefts, the Sme daily wrote in early October. Its location on the outskirts of Bratislava, neighbouring locations where homeless people live, reportedly contributes to the problem.

The premises are administered by the University Hospital Bratislava. Petra Maťašovská, its spokesperson, told Sme that based on an expert opinion from 2009, the skeleton structure could be completed. For now, the cabinet has yet to decide whether the project will go ahead. The first Fico government (in power between 2006 and 2010) calculated that €500 million would be needed. The Health Ministry has also pointed to the difficult situation at the existing hospitals in Kramáre and on Mickiewiczova Street, both of which are nearing the end of their operating lives. Bratislava also lacks premises for medical students.

In response to the cabinet’s plan, Viliam Novotný, an MP for the opposition Slovak Democratic Christian Union (SDKÚ), launched a campaign on Facebook, Stop Rázsochám, to oppose completion of the complex, citing the current indebtedness of the health sector.

According to the Zdravotnícke Noviny health weekly, however, the overall response of the public during the first two months of Novotný’s campaign was to support the idea of completing Rázsochy.

Novotný said completion of the project would make no sense from a medical or an economic point of view. He pointed out that the premises have been neglected for over 20 years, during which time medical technologies and the design imperatives for hospitals have changed, he argued.

The construction of Rázsochy was launched in 1987, i.e. two years before the fall of the communist regime in Slovakia. The complex was supposed to have been completed in 1993, but construction was halted in 1990. The second Dzurinda government halted the project completely in 2003, the Pravda daily wrote. Today only the skeleton of the huge facility remains.

So far the Rázsochy complex has swallowed about €33 million, while the price of the land on which it stands is estimated to be almost €19 million. If no medical facility is built there, the state would have to return it to its original owners, according to Zdravotnícke Noviny.

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