Shattered glass and bullet holes mar the entrance to El-Mounira General Hospital in downtown Cairo. At 2am on Friday morning the Mounira emergency room was attacked.
Men forced themselves into the clinic area, when the director of the emergency room came to speak with the men he was grabbed by his tie and sustained injuries on his hand. The head nurse was struck and left with a contusion on her face. Hospital property was broken, including two monitors.
The events come as part of a string of violence that has caused hospitals across Egypt to shutter their doors.
The Mounira emergency room closed for a day and a half but recently reopened because, according to Vice Director Dr. Khalid Mohammed Abdelbadea, “we see our responsibility of helping patience as critical.” Dr. Abdelbadea and Deputy of the Mounira Hospital Dr. Khedr Abd Alla said they see the violence as the inevitable after effects of the Revolution. That being said, they say they desperately need more security.
At El-Demerdash Hospital, Dr. Rafa Fauzi has not returned to his position in the surgical emergency room since a fight broke out there on Thursday. The surgical emergency room has been out of operation for four days now. For his part, Fauzi has moved further within the hospital to work on cases in an environment where he feels safe. “We won’t go back until they get proper security,” he said.
Doctors elsewhere in Egypt have gone on strike in protest of the security situation. The Egyptian Medical Syndicate has demanded the Interior Ministry provide additional security, especially at more exposed emergency rooms. Syndicate board members have even considered arming doctors as a last resort.
From his carpeted and air conditioned office at the New Kasr El-Aini Hospital, Taymour Mostafa Abu-Heneidy, proclaimed that the Kasr El-Aini medical complex has never been forced to close their doors. “We never close, not since we opened in 1996,” he said with a smile.
But the message was different across the street in the emergency wing of the old, labyrinthine Kasr El-Aini complex. There, Dr. Ahmed Amr said, “We closed around 8am last Wednesday, and reopened the next morning.” There was a fight involving families of patients, and no knives or guns were used confirmed Amr.
“There were no police here at the time of the fighting,” said Kasr El-Aini’s Dr. Yusef Alied, “so we had to close. When the police arrived the next morning we reopened.” Alied said that similar events had occurred in Kasr El-Aini’s emergency room in July.
At the entrance to El-Mounira, two soldiers sit with their tall boots and red berets, but it is simply not enough insists Vice Dircetor Abdelbadea. “It is a problem in all of Egypt. The problem is simple. It is one word, security.”
El-Mounira Doctors Abd Alla and Abdelbadea are careful men. They do not speak with anger, instead it is with exasperation at their situation: they are caught between a desire to serve their patients and the need to protect the staff who provide that service.