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Nurse tells Ukrainian to 'go home' after complaint

Vivian Tse · 28 Jan 2011, 11:43

Published: 28 Jan 2011 11:43 GMT+01:00

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Nataliya Tymchenko was diagnosed with hypothyroidism over 20 years ago in Ukraine before moving to Sweden seven years ago. Noticing an improvement in her condition, she stopped taking medication while living in Sweden.

She consulted a gynaecologist recently after her period had stopped for four months, who referred her to an endocrinologist.

After waiting for three weeks, Tymchenko called Vrinnevi hospital in Norrköping, where she now lives after moving from Finspång 30 kilometres northwest one and a half years ago. She was surprised to learn that she should contact the health care centre in Finspång instead.

Informing staff that she would take her case to the media, a nurse she had spoken with called back after 10 minutes and offered Tymchenko am appointment in two weeks, which she refused because she needed an appointment immediately.

"I was then told, 'If you don't like the system, go to Ukraine.' She was not very professional and not intelligent. I was very angry, so I went to the newspaper, there was no other way," Tymchenko recounted to The Local on Friday.

Tymchenko contacted the local Folkbladet newspaper, which reported on her case on Thursday. After the report ran, the hospital informed her on the same day that she had an appointment with an endocrinologist on February 9th.

When asked if contacting the newspaper played any role in getting the proper referral, Tymchenko said, "Yes, absolutely."

Hypothyroidism occurs due to a deficiency of thyroid hormones. While in Ukraine, Tymchenko's dosage for her medication was 100 milligrammes, but she wanted to resume taking the medication at a lower dosage.

Previously, she had gone to a hospital in Finspång, where they took her blood and sent the sample to nearby Linköping. At the time, she was given 50 milligrammes, which was too much for her at the time.

Story continues below…

The nurse Tymchenko spoke to referred to this round of medication as the grounds for sending her back to the heathcare centre in Finspång.

"I felt better, I thought maybe I was getting better with the different climate, but I knew from the beginning I would have to take it for the rest of my life," Tymchenko said of not taking her medication when she first moved to Sweden.

"Now, I absolutely need to do it again, I need a doctor," she added.

Vivian Tse (vivian.tse@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:36 January 28, 2011 by Truthgate
Well done, that what they need. .
13:03 January 28, 2011 by Birbun
The nurse was right clearly.

If you're in a country as foreigner and you have FREE health care you can only thank God for this and accept the times of the public health.

Otherwise, if you want to speed up the times, you need to pay a private visit.

It works the same system in every public health care all around Europe.
13:05 January 28, 2011 by Vasyl
with all the respect, it does not make much sense: the woman refused an appointment in two weeks in order to contact a newspaper, and receive an appointment in TWO weeks. The publicity did not make any difference.
13:06 January 28, 2011 by byke

healthcare is not free in sweden ... its subsidized through taxes and admin fee's.

If she pays taxes in sweden, she is not a foreigner.
13:17 January 28, 2011 by Localer
what make her so special to jump queue ? what if the first 2 weeks already fulled ???
14:16 January 28, 2011 by enkelt
if her name would have being a moslem name that should have led a dabate on parliement next week .:D
14:29 January 28, 2011 by sbf325
The issue here is one of respect. I'm sure Ms. Tymchenko has suffered a thousand slights (be they real or perceived) since moving to Sweden, based on her appearance or accent. My wife was born in Ukraine, on the whole she gets treated very well here in Sweden, but occasionally she too suffers from the attitudes of rude or ignorant people. In this instance, the nurse in question made the cause of her resentment clear: that Ms. Tymchenko wasn't born here, and is thus somehow less deserving. What she probably doesn't understand is that such comments are extremely hurtful for someone who has likely spent the past seven years trying very hard to be accepted in this society.
15:36 January 28, 2011 by Mack
@ sbf325

Very well put.
15:41 January 28, 2011 by Maler1971
Okay, so this woman notices an improvment in her illness then STOPS taking meds w/o consulting a physician? goofs things up and demands an immediate appt?

I work in healthcare and it is hard dealing with "pushy" and demanding patients. It is tough to keep your cool sometimes.

There is a saying

"dont look a gift-horse in the mouth"
15:58 January 28, 2011 by mojofat
The more stories I read about the swedish health care system the more worried I get about needing it at some point in the future.
16:07 January 28, 2011 by Nysvensk
For those who think medication or doctors are FREE in Sweden, I have news for you. TAXES. I have a sole proprietorship in Sweden and I can guarantee you that health care is not free here. For me, it costs $3,300 a year in taxes. I can see it clearly on my final taxation statement. Someone is paying, whether it is the employer or a person with a company, like me. If Ms Tymchenko or her husband has been working, they or their employers have been paying. At any rate, I agree with sbf325, I have seen many foreigners treated badly by Swedes, though I think the majority are not like that.
16:14 January 28, 2011 by 160kph
I would question whether or not the nurse resented the patient for being Ukrainian. It seems just as likely that the patient was rather difficult to deal with and the nurse a bit short tempered.

I had my mother living with us a few months ago and after hearing numerous complaints from her on all the things wrong with Sweden I felt like telling her "Go back to England".

I didn't resent her for being English, just a moaner.
17:18 January 28, 2011 by zoroastrina
I took great pleasure in sbf325's comment. I had a beloved Jewish friend who suffered perinatally from hypothyroidism from his birth on 3 November 1931 until his death on 9 July 2009. For two years I wrote countless written pleadings to the local district court until I finally succeeded in freeing him from his guardian. I had a full power of attorney for him which expired immediately upon his death. His grandmother was murdered in Auschwitz and his family, pursued by the Gestapo, changed their residence constantly in order to escape being sent to Auschwitz. Despite his being undoubtedly "cognitively challenged" (newspeak) as the result of his illness having being untreated for a decade and a half, he had a very large vocabulary: He referred to his hypothyroidism as an "unterfunktionierende Schilddrüse". When I discussed his case with persons who were charged with his social control or suppression in the horrid old people's homes in which he was involuntarily confined and which are mostly death asylums and total institutions, their eyes seemed to glaze over with repugnance toward an insolent foreign upstart who dared to refer to Wilhelm Schenker as a "Verfolgter (persecutee) des Nazi-Regimes". On 11 Oktober 1998 in Frankfurt's Paulskirche Martin Walser gave a notorious speech in which he condemned the instrumentalization of the holocaust as a moral cudgel. That is the tone in today's Germany. Upon his death the local Office of Public Order put his unwashed body, bloodied from severe decubitus ulcers, into a pine box and he was buried without even a burial shroud. Wilhelm Schenker was a lifelong social outcast.
17:31 January 28, 2011 by locaxy

There's unfortunately a general acceptance of "birth rights" in this country. Heck...even the head of state position is solely a birthright.

I strongly agree with you.
17:44 January 28, 2011 by muscle
Hmm. I understand the Ukrainian lady was hurt. But I also know this; I never faced any such problem. In fact when I first came to Sweden, I was told it's a racist country. But at least the people I have met till now, after staying here for over 2 years, they were very nice and helpful, which is why I have a great respect for the people of Sweden. I work in a government agency now, with people who value your work productivity rather than your race.

The point is every country has cases of flaws and strengths. But yes, people, especially the ones who need to have public dealing, should be trained to think before they speak. In customer dealing you meet all sorts of people. You must not lose your patience!
18:11 January 28, 2011 by BobWas
Whoa. I think there is a serious problem with this story.

I have a relative with hypothyroidism. The medication is prescribed/dispensed in microgrammes/micrograms, not milligrammes/milligrams. There are 1,000 microgrammes in a milligramme.

Either this is a reporting error (the more likely scenario since the woman is still alive) or she is on a drug regimen a thousand times higher than it should be.
18:24 January 28, 2011 by Swedesmith
Thank you Zoroastrina. You raise us all up with your kindness.
18:44 January 28, 2011 by theibmsstate2000
she is sick and she will have appointment after 2 weeks this doesnt make sense.

swedish people cannt do good job and they dont let other ppl to do good job.

swede only accept swede.they wont accept. no job nothing in sweden.

if only you wannn live its ok but dont expect from swedes.they are in infirity complex.you know i am much qualified and experienced person in IT since 2 years i have never get single call for the interview for the job whyyyy.so this is sweden.
20:21 January 28, 2011 by paulhenri
Unfortunately, I have become very well aquainted with the gross apathy of the Swedish medical system, and I can say that time and time again, my dogs have recieved better care and higher quality care than I have in Sweden. Dogs in Sweden, very often, have better care than people. Dogs can see any doctor in the whole country. Dogs are not left to suffer in pain without help while their bodies rots. Dogs are not treated badly because they are non-native Swedish dogs. Dogs get immediate care and are not left to suffer on endless waiting lists, etc. I have always cared very deeply for animals, BUT I feel that our human health care should at the very least be the same quality that dogs receive. And as everyone else has already said, medical care in Sweden is NOT free. We pay some of the world's highest taxes to be treated like trash...
20:53 January 28, 2011 by logi
it is important that they take into consideration serious cases on health issues. the waiting list approach sucks
22:05 January 28, 2011 by babychuma
Nysvensk, is the $3,300 amount right? is that all out of your income tax or a seperate charge?I thought healthcare in Sweden was cheaper than that, my premium in the US is $2,080 per year and that includes perscriptions, dental and optical all as needed and on demand, my plan isn't a HMO either. Explain if you have the time, I'm curious as the US is heading the direction of EU style heathcare.

If I had been spoken to that rudely I would grab my records and go to another Dr.'s office so fast their heads woud spin.
22:07 January 28, 2011 by dan_sparrow
this situation described in the article its real, it happens to me many times...

i would get upset too if i have to wait 3 weeks to hear that i have to go to other hospital...

maler doesnt say that she took the determination to stop with the medication, can be possible that her doctor in that time recomended her to stop with it

for those who say that swedish health care its free, please tell me, where my taxes went to?

even when we pay for it with our taxes some hospitals charges u an extra fee from 95 to 360 kr depending in the profesional...
23:37 January 28, 2011 by Uncle

What the hell are you banging on about? I have a Swedish acquittance who waited for a simple surgery for a YEAR.

I personally saw a 9y/o girl sitting in emergency room with a bleeding head until her blood just stopped by itself and here entire hair was looking like a sponge.

Besides, the issue here is not whether the time was good or not, but what the nurse said. I would LOVE to hear her saying it to a muslim. Another example of bullying by a tired and underpaid nurse on a permanent job position.
00:18 January 29, 2011 by Kaethar
@160kph: This. From what is told in the article I'm going to have to side with the nurse. They shouldn't have to put up with endless moaning and I think she should be forgiven for not being diplomatic. I've often told foreigners to go home if they hate it here when they're continously moaning. Note that there's a difference between constructive criticism, light complaining, and moaning.

Complaining about waiting for two weeks (which is short) in a tax subsidised healthcare system (which by default will have long waiting times on average as demand is greater than supply) is an example of MOANING. She can't demand to jump ahead of the queue. As the article shows - even after going to the media she has to wait for roughly the same time...
00:18 January 29, 2011 by d_rtnd
Dear concerned well wishers!

I would like to know in what way the lady was asking ( or Demanding) for

an earlier appointment?I have been in sweden for 27 years,and have had to wait many times for appointments.In Sweden it works this way. THATS IT.

Everything goes by turn and NOT by "buying" yourself an earlier appointment or blackmailing or thretning like in this case(going to the media).Now when this person is given an early appointment it means that those who are waiting quitely,will have to wait even longer because someone else was annoying enough to cut the waiting list. THIS is unfair not that she was asked to go back to her homeland. And shame on media who encourages such behaviour.Thanks for a fair system ,sweden!!
01:36 January 29, 2011 by 160kph
@Kaethar. From what it says in the article I find it hard to form a clear opinion as to who is right or wrong. Maybe the nurse is prejudice against foreigners, maybe the patient is just an awkward so-and-so. Who really knows?

I was just questioning the point made by sbf325- "In this instance, the nurse in question made the cause of her resentment clear: that Ms. Tymchenko wasn't born here, and is thus somehow less deserving." I felt that there was little basis to make that statement.

I'm concious about moaning to other Swedes about the things that bug me here in Sweden, that they might tell me "go back to England". I wouldn't take it that there telling me I'm less worthy, just that "if I don't like it go somewhere else".
07:56 January 29, 2011 by theibmsstate2000
160kph ur right.

if swedes dont like immigrants stop the immigrants.

why sweden is in EU.swede should not visit other EU countries. what swede eat everyday food.you think it grows in sweden. huh no.

the thing is that swede mental level is quiet low.

i have 2008 mercedes benz when i drive some where swedes get jealous why that immigrant has benz this is thier mentality. in the job point of view they cannt do good job and they dont let other to do the job.

if swede dont like immigrants they should demand from thier government to stop and send back all the immigrants.

but all the swedes are not bad people.i know many swedes are very good people.
08:06 January 29, 2011 by miss79
@theibmasstate2000 i like ur comment but to think of it again, i think U should tell the goverment to stop producing millitary weapons by using the taxes..thanks wikileaks, u did a great job..
09:00 January 29, 2011 by 160kph
I'm not trying to say that Swedes don't like immigrants. I'm saying that some Swedes don't like moaners. just as people all over the world don't like moaners.

The nurse in the article might have meant it as a xenophobic comment, then again we only have the patients word for it so the nurse may have said nothing of the sort.

I was just saying to a previous poster, that to say the nurse obviously resented the patient for being foreign is jumping to conclusions.
12:19 January 29, 2011 by Nilspet

No the nurse was wrong! Didn't you see that they gave in when she contacted the newspaper? It showed that they realized they were bad. Public health is to be taken care very seriously.

The way it works right now is a mess and very damaging to a lot of people that need medical attention. The nurse was NOT professional at all ...
13:57 January 29, 2011 by Looking in
2 weeks to see a specialist is good. I have been waiting 4 1/2 months to see a specialist in Australia (I live in a small town) and I won't be getting that visit free I can assure you. If it is urgent--the woman could go to emergency in a hospital!
14:09 January 29, 2011 by theibmsstate2000
looking in your wrong.

dont bring ur Australia here.i know well whats australian medical system.how the australian people are. see the history.
16:33 January 29, 2011 by theibmsstate2000

i think u hate muslims. in this topic there is nothing about muslims.if u have sense look all the messages. there are other countries immigrant also living in sweden.see your history first then you will know who are you.see the movies DARK AGES . your depressive people.if you wont accept immigrants stop immigrants and send them back. and made your own crops and fruits dont ask from other countries.and even swedes dont accept EU immigrants.you should stop EU immigrants as well you should not go to other countries. your talking about what what is special in sweden no jobs nothing.if something is immigrant he will never ever get job.50%swedes are living on social money.dont take oil from arab country we will see how you will survive. you think your some thing speical people or what.
20:13 January 29, 2011 by Nilspet
theibmsstate2000 is totally correct, there is nothing about muslims in this news article.


We are talking about bad medical care. Most swedes admit that we have terrible medical care in Sweden given our fanancial, technological status. It is wrong to have to wait for ages to meet specialist(s). It is just wrong not matter what nationality the patient has. We need a medical care reform. That it is low cost (because it is highly subsidized by tax money) does not mean that it has to be "this" bad.
02:38 January 30, 2011 by dan_sparrow

dude u act like a chihuahua, too much noise, too little thing,

think first and write later, may help you to not make fool of yourself

BTW people theres and article about malapraxis in hospitals might help in this discussion
02:42 January 31, 2011 by Elemento P
If Tymchenko had an urgent problem then perhaps she may have had a point. But according to the story, this patient had a problem for four months prior to even attempting to seek help...and indeed, knew she had a condition for which she had stopped taking medication. Whatever crisis was going on was entirely created by the Tymchenko herself!

Additionally we have no idea how the issue of Tymchenko being from the Ukraine came up. She could have said "In the Ukraine we get medical appointments much quicker." Tymchenko sounds as though she was not very respectful when she did not get her way.
10:45 January 31, 2011 by gpwell
To echo an earlier commenter's sentiment, health care (public or private) should always be taken very seriously. Since managing demanding patients is a critical nursing skill, this nurse should be retrained to keep better control of situations like this. And if she can't understand and gracefully accept the reality that sick people occasionally become exasperated, desperate, pushy and rude, perhaps she should follow her own line of reasoning and find a profession that is better suited for her.
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