Kuressaare Hospital retains Dr. Edward Laane as director

A masked Dr. Edward Laane, the Kuressaare Hospital chief doctor facing calls to resign following a petition of 24 signatures from staff at the hospital. Source: ERR

Doctor Edward Laane will continue as director of Saaremaa's main hospital in spite of a letter expressing no-confidence in his work through the coronavirus pandemic. Saaremaa has by far per capita been the worst affected region of Estonia in the pandemic so far.

Two weeks ago, 24 staff from Kuressaare Hospital, in the island's capital, sent a letter to the rural municipality on Saaremaa, saying that Laane had been inadequate as a manager. Accusations included working relatively few hours, doling out anti-malarial drugs to patients without going via the correct channels, and spending more time communicating with the media than with staff and other relevant people.

The hospital's council discussed the matter at a meeting Thursday and opted to retain Dr. Laane's services, however.

"We came to the conclusion that there are opportunities for cooperation in the future," the hospital's supervisory board chair Kalle Laanet told ERR current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" Thursday evening.

"We definitely need to make an effort, to find a common ground and to communicate better. At the moment, our decision is that the hospital's board will continue with exactly the same composition."

Laanet added that hearing what the parties had to say had given the impression that their further cooperation was viable.

"Peace of mind must be ensured for the members of the board together with the hospital staff and this, of course, requires certain actions. /.../ A concrete action plan must be drawn up on how to do this. /.../ We will discuss this further," said Laanet.

During the height of the pandemic, the hospital both opened an additional coronavirus ward on top of two existing ones, and saw the Estonian Defense Forces erect a field hospital in its grounds in anticipation of overload of the hospital's regular facilities. The field hospital was not needed in the event, and has since been taken down.

According to current data, Saaremaa has a per capita COVID-19 infection rate of 165.52 persons per 10,000 inhabitants, compared with 23.75 per 10,000 in Võru County, the next most affected region, and 10.52 per 10,000 inhabitants in Harju County, the most populous region of the country and which includes Tallinn. The rate of new infections on Saaremaa has however levelled off in the past three weeks.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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