On How Collective a Romanian Investigation Explodes

On How Collective a Romanian Investigation Explodes
Investigative Journalism
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On How Collective a Romanian Investigation Explodes. I adore documentaries, but I rarely talk about them here on THiNC., mainly because if I gave full legs to my illicit love for them, I’d turn into a documentary cat-lady. Living in a run down apartment with documentaries running all over the place, pouring documentary food on the kitchen’s broken and crapped on linoleum. Open an upper cupboard, find three hidden away documentaries. Try to slip away from the mewing and affection hungry beasts, and they’d find you from underneath the bed, or space heater, or that pile of unattended clothes. I literally have worried that if an episode of How Stuff is Made, got accidentally set to loop, I would die in my chair as I found it impossible to break free from the enormity of its ever-looping – never ending – gravitational pull.

Today we are talking about the film, Collective. (Or Colectiv, whichever.)

If you bred Winter on Fire and Icarus – you’d get Collective. (I challenge anyone for a more succinctly accurate description than that.) This is a horrifying story. And the good news? It’s horrible to watch. The better news is? It gets worse, and worse, and worse, the deeper you go into it. So yeah, you got that to look forward with this one. Better yet, you might even throw up half way through. There is one scene… one very specific moment, wherein my gag reflex went directly to 11, and I was certain my dinner was hitting the carpet. CERTAIN. I only salvaged it by averting my eyes early enough. Just saying. So you might want to like prep for this level of excitement with Collective.

IF IT’S SO BAD, WHY WATCH IT?!? I’ll tell you why you lazy American… you’ll be better off for it after the fact. THAT’S WHY.

Quick Non-spoiler Overview of Collective

At the club Colectiv, a fire breaks out, and it ends up killing 27 people. Just a really sad situation. That’s bad. But what is INFINITELY worse is the fact that after the fact, 37 more victims of the fire die due to the horrific healthcare situation in the nearby hospitals they were sent to. Why? Why did 37 more people die? Were they all critical? No. They absolutely were not. So then why did they die?!?

Great question. That is when the local journalists begin investigating the mismanagement of the healthcare in the local community. Specifically, they starting tracking a story about disinfectants used in these hospitals. It began appearing as if the active ingredients for these disinfectants had been removed? Or diluted? And with that, the journalists are hot on the trail of a pharmaceutical supplier that seems to be behind most these issues.

Here Be Dragons Dangit!

Please make sure you watch the film before continuing on. From here on out will be spoilers for this incredible documentary. You’ve been warned, and all that jazz…

Like I said, there was a fire. There were infections. And there were journalists hot on the trail of the pharmaceutical companies. We quickly learn from a source on the inside of one of the hospitals that the intelligence service there in Romania had known for years that bacterial infections were killing numerous uncounted patients, but that they did nothing. After a local paper publishes the leak, there were protests that lead to the Minister of Health’s resignation. And a criminal investigation begins against the President of the pharma firm, Hexi Pharma… Dan Condrea. Finally! A throat to choke! A bad guy that can be held accountable for these unfortunate deaths! Confirmations of the dilutions come from the government… they were only 10% the strength they should have been. But when pressed, the government says that 95% of all hazardous bacteria were being killed by the solutions. Not horrible. But not great. Yeah, the journalists and everyone watching the film could all smell a rat. Something was going on here.

But before they could get to the bottom of it all – Condrea, the head of Hexi Pharma dies in a car crash. Suicide? Or murder?

Worse, The Gazette, then gets a video of one of the burn victims with festering wounds, and maggots crawling through their sores. I am crapping you negative. Literally the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen in film. Nothing even comes close. A doctor that filmed the maggots, now has finally decided to come forward, to speak out against these horrible atrocities. (Can you imagine it?) Well, as it turns out, the maggots, played exceedingly well in the news… I mean, terribly. You get what I mean. And the knowledge that the disinfectant problem has not gotten any better even after the Colectiv incident, and might even be getting worse because of the enormity of the need from these patients. Did we mention at the outset that the Social Democratic governmental coalition was ousted immediately after the fire? And still nothing has been done? The voting of the people, specifically on this front has literally done less than nothing to help.

Which brings us to Vlad Voiculescu. The new Minister of Health for Romania. He meets with this now divulging doctor and she walks him through, point by methodical point, on how the hospital management has avoided any of these issues or cries for reform. And that they have done less than nothing as, one by one, the patients from the concert fire, died one by one. Worse, she talks to him about how the hospital covers the patients faces in order to avoid looking at them. Worse than worse, she outlines for him how the bribes are awarded within the system, and how the hospital managers and the doctors jockey for positions. FOR EXAMPLE, a doctor will pay a bribe to get into the Operating Room rotation… SO THAT, they can accept bribes from patients about to be operated on. Now, what is it exactly are these patients bribing these doctors for I ask you? Non-death bribes? Survival bribes? Like, less pain bribes? I just can’t imagine a system that allows doctors to take bribes for really any reason. My mind is just being blown, over, and over, and over again here.

OK, so let’s recap. A fire, a tragedy happens. And some young people die. But worse, in the aftermath of said fire, a lot more people die of mistreatment caused by the rot inherent within the Romanian healthcare system. The government issues statements declaring the Romanian health care system as being as good as the German health care system. Yeah, that is a very bold statement… even if you don’t know anything about the German hospitals it is attempting to compete with. The Government we learn is taking bribes to allow pharma to save money on its products by decreasing the active ingredients in these products. Well, Voiculescu figures out that not one single area of the Romanian health system that isn’t corrupt. Not one. But he is incapable of firing the hospital’s corrupt managers and so he disallows new managers from being hired (none of which have any health care system experience… they are more like mafia racketeers than doctors, it would turn out.) This really angers a number of political leaders. And it only gets worse when he pulls the funding from a lung transplant unit when he finds out that the unit was incapable of the necessary after care for the transplant. Which then lights up Gabriela Firea, who accuses him of wasting government and the people’s money, by forcing Romanians to head abroad to pay way more for the same surgery. But when we learn that the transplant unit shouldn’t have even been accredited in the first place the house of cards begins to tumble.

Did I mention that Firea is a Social Democrat? So the Social Democrats are bad. Just memorize this fact. They oppose cleaning up the health system, and are actively attacking Voiculescu, the only sane person in the government attempting for change and reform at all. Got it? SD = BAD. Great.

Enter the elections. A lot is made of the reformers attempting to bring out the vote. Um. But yeah, that doesn’t work out at all. The Social Democrats (yeah, the bad guys) sweep the elections and retake the government. After that, the Gazette and the reporters that broke the story start getting warnings about their safety, and the safety of their families. But that isn’t all – in the final twist of the knife – the local hospital that Voiculescu had blocked from hiring a corrupt manager, hires…. a corrupt manager. This man is obviously unqualified for running a dog pound, let alone a hospital caring for the lives of hundreds. Fade to black.

Thoughts on Collective

Could someone please hand me a straight razor so I can hack away at my wrists? Humans are idiots of the most profound sense of the word. No, that is giving us all way too much credit. Humans are evil at their core. They prioritize money, power, and influence over and above the health and welfare of other human beings every single time. This story makes this truth abundantly clear to me. Really distressing at the cosmically macro level. Never mind at the micro level… maggots, personal suffering, and the like. Humans are horribly evil and selfish in all possible ways is the lesson from this particular movie.

Want to debate me on the points? I’m happy to engage. But you don’t stand much of a chance, just saying.

Edited by: CY