An altercation that broke out between visitors to injured protesters and the nursing staff at Qasr al-Aini French Hospital Wednesday turned into a brawl, leading to three arrests and the deployment of Central Security Forces.
Atef Farag, managing director of Qasr al-Aini French Hospital, said the fight broke out after the visitors refused to pay entrance tickets on grounds that they came to see protesters injured during the revolution.
When security personnel insisted that they pay, the visitors allegedly responded with insults. Hospital security arrested three of the visitors and handed them over to police, and as the situation escalated, CSF troops were sent to the scene.
Hospitals around Egypt have generally complained that lax security after the revolution has led to repeated attacks on personnel and facilities, rendering them unable to properly carry out their duties.
Tension prevailed at the emergency entrance as security personnel and nursing staff gathered at the gate to defend their colleagues, carrying different tools that could be used as weapons.
"Any exceptions [to paying entrance tickets] require a directive from hospital administration. The security guard at the door can only carry out his duty and collect fees from anyone entering the hospital," Farag said.
Many on the hospital staff cite mistreatment by the revolution victims and their visiting relatives.
Sabrine Mohamed, a nurse, said one of the visitors insulted her using crude words just because she asked what the altercation was about.
While some injured protesters disregard hospital rules, such as not smoking indoors, says radiographer Ahmed Mangoud, no one on staff mistreats them.
Mangoud also said they do not comply with visiting regulations, nor do their relatives, but it’s difficult to take action against them.
"Everybody knows that the injured protesters are a red line and no one dare annoy them or even reply to their insults," Mangoud said. "When we complained to the hospital manager, he told us the issue was much bigger than him," he added.
Some of the patients, he claimed, intentionally create problems to draw media attention.
"It is not the fault of the staff that the hospital's capabilities cannot meet the needs of injured protesters,” he added.
Hospital personnel also criticize false media reports on the conditions of revolution victims at hospitals.
"Media outlets are afraid to talk about revolution victims and accuse them of wrongdoing. They accuse us of being bullies and this has a highly negative impact on hospital workers, who themselves participated in the revolution and did not spare any effort to help the victims,” said Saber Othman, one of the administrative staff.
A similar incident occurred on Wednesday, 24 October when the nursing staff prevented some of the revolution victims from attempting to leave the hospital without permission. The situation escalated when patients called in their relatives, who then attacked the hospital and the staff.
Sayyed al-Gaafary, who was injured on the Friday of Anger, said that the injured protesters generally have no qualms with the nursing staff, but some mistreat them for no reason.
He claims some staff members persecute the injured protesters and their families even though they should be treated favorably.
"The presidency is the cause of all this because they promised we would be treated abroad, but it seems they backtracked on that promise.
“The Cabinet asked us to communicate with hospitals abroad and obtain approvals. I cannot communicate with my family inside Egypt, how am I supposed to do so with a hospital in Germany?" he asked.
On the other hand, Osama Sobhy, who was injured on 29 January 2011, stressed that the Qasr al-Aini French Hospital’s administration carries out its duty toward injured protesters within the limits of the facilities’ capabilities.
The state should facilitate their treatment abroad, instead of asking them to obtain the necessary approvals from foreign hospitals themselves, he added.
"All I demand is to receive treatment to be able to walk again, and of course, I am not coming to the hospital to fight.
“I only call on hospital administration, nursing staff and security personnel to bear with us until they find a solution and treat us. Or maybe we will die and they can rest," Sobhy said.
Translated from Arabic by Mai Mohsen