U.S. fighter takes swipe at Russian healthcare

“The hallways were full of wandering patients that looked like they were just out of a civil war battle,” is how Jeff Monson, a U.S. heavyweight fighter, describes his experience at a hospital in Moscow in an unflattering blog post about the Russian capital’s health system.

Monson was forced to seek medical treatment after he broke his leg in a mixed martial arts fight with the Russian champion Fedor Emelianenko on November 20. However it was another man, Vladimir Putin, who sustained the most serious injury – mainly to his ego.

The Russian prime minister climbed onto the ring to congratulate Emelianenko but was met with boos and catcalls from the 22,000-strong crowd. Putin’s spokesman hastened to repair the damage, saying fans were in fact booing Monson, a claim rebutted by hundreds of supportive messages from Russians on his Facebook wall.

“You are a great fighter! Whistling was not [at] you, it was an expression of disapproval at our prime minister,” Vladimir Kazakov from Tula wrote.

Jeka Zorja said: “We hate only our government! We respect the real men, [which] you really are! All the whistles were only for Putin and for his party; they are the greatest thieves in our history!”

One user posted that Monson should take on Putin next.

Monson admitted that Emelianenko was a “class act” and that the fight didn’t go as planned for him. He then had a choice of two hospitals: “one for everyday folks and one for visitors and government officials.”

“I picked the local everyday folk hospital as I was told it was closer to the arena,” Monson wrote in his blog on the MMA-Connection website earlier this week.

He said that while he was “not a big fan of the medical industrial complex in the U.S.,” the Moscow experience made him “appreciate the comfort of health care in this country.”

When he arrived, staff were smoking in the lobby while “the hallways were full of wandering patients that looked like they were just out of a civil war battle.”

There was first a mix-up over which part of his body was to be x-rayed.

“I had to fight with one of the doctors to avoid having my skull x-rayed. Eventually I got an x-ray for my leg which showed it was broken (something I already knew) and had it casted,” Monson said.

He then had “16 stitches on the inside and outside of my lip with a material that could have passed for chicken wire.”

“It was so sharp it was making my gums bleed so I took them out myself.”

In an interview with the tabloid Moskovsky Komsomolets on Thursday, the staff at the hospital no. 36 said the “wandering patients” Monson witnessed were “local lushes injured in family fights.”

“Every day after 6 p.m. there is an influx of patients with bloodied faces,” doctors said. They also dismissed Monson’s complaints about the material used in the stitching, saying it was “the cheapest and used everywhere in Russia.”

Monson said, however, that he felt no anger: “The doctors were very kind and despite the inadequate medical equipment/supplies they knew what they were doing.”

“As far as Putin and the booing at the end of the fight, well that’s another story at some other time,” he added.


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