Battle for Medical Lab of Pomorie Hospital

Mayor Ivan Alexiev is accused of wrongdoing; he threatens to sue

The Mayor of Pomorie Ivan Alexiev is in serious breach of the law in order to serve the interests of a company from Sofia, leaving the population in the municipality without hospital care through the Health Insurance Fund. Alexiev is not even complying with the decision of the Regional Governor of Burgas Valcho Cholakov and is forcibly trying to seize the premises of the lab from the current tenant, the medical diagnostic laboratory “Lina”, in favor of another company, the manager of “Lina”, Dr. Vasil Kostadinov, alerts in a letter to media.

“Lina” has been located in the Pomorie Hospital since 2013, under a contract with the latter, which is valid until the end of 2016, explains in his letter Dr. Kostadinov. The contract was concluded after the Mayor issued an order for free use of six rooms in the hospital, including a room for clinical diagnostic structures. Pomorie Hospital rented in turn the premises for clinical diagnostic structures to “Lina”, which repaired them and installed equipment for 640,000 levs.

Last year, without warning “Lina” and the hospital, the Municipal Council removed from the assets of the latter only the premises of the lab and auctioned them. The tender was won by a Sofia-based company for a period of ten years.

The law allows to rent public municipal property for up to five years, explains in his letter Dr. Vasil Kostadinov. The Regional Governor of Burgas Valcho Cholakov has canceled the auction as unlawful. However, the municipality and the Mayor insisted for the premises to be vacated for the Sofia-based company.

“The Pomorie municipality and its Mayor Ivan Alexiev are in serious breach of the law, because private interests are now going to prevent Pomorie Hospital from signing a contract with the Health Insurance Fund, while on the other hand, they are failing the implementation of a European-financed project in the hospital for 640,000 levs. The Mayor did not even comply with the decision of the Regional Governor of Burgas, attorney Valcho Cholakov, which has revoked the unlawfully-held by the Municipal Council bid for the premises of the clinical lab in Pomorie Hospital,” is written in the letter.

The funds to purchase the equipment of the lab came from a grant, signed with the Ministry of Economy and Energy under the EU Operational Program Development of the Competitiveness of the Bulgarian Economy in 2007-2013. The express condition for granting the funds is the equipment to be installed and to operate in the lab of Pomorie Hospital. With his decisions, the Mayor of Pomorie is preventing the reporting of the project under the operational program. The EU funds earned for the benefit of the people of Pomorie will be wasted in order to protect private interests, says Dr Kostadinov.

“Ivan Alexiev’s will to accommodate the Sofia-based company will be seriously detrimental to the patients of Pomorie Hospital. If “Lina” leaves, the hospital will not be able to conclude a contract with the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF), because it will have to close the “Clinical Lab” unit, which is mandatory for such a contract. Five people will also have to be fired- one doctor and four lab technicians. Not least, the municipal hospital will have to make unnecessary expenditures, because the Sofia-based company that won the illegal tender has no contract with the Regional Health Insurance Fund to operate on the territory of Pomorie Hospital. Thus, for an indefinite period of time, the hospital will have to pay a third lab to conduct the lab tests. The losers are many, but there is only one winner. The question is should the residents of Pomorie, the hospital, the lab – tenant and the medical staff be deprived because of private interests?” the manager of “Lina” asks in his letter.

Dr Kostadinov states that he does not want to resort to legal action and calls on the Pomorie Municipality to reach a reasonable solution in the dispute.

After his public statement, however, the dispute deepened. The Mayor of Pomorie replied to the accusations with the following:

“The use of the public to make accusations without evidence, supported with reference to pseudo-laws, is punishable under Bulgarian law. I hope that next time when Dr. Kostadinov decides to use my reputation to protect his private interests, involving the civil society, he will take this into account.”

We publish the official statement of Pomorie Municipality:

  1. Pomorie Hospital is a public municipal property and as such, its premises are subject to lease by tender or auction, according to the Municipal Property Act. Such is also the prescription to Pomorie Municipality after a check carried out by the National Audit Office. In this connection, I consider that the classification of legal procedures as “forced attempt to seize the lab” is, to put it mildly, inappropriate and borders on populism. The owner of lab “Lina” failed to participate in the tender under the pretext that he has not received the notice, although the auction date was determined and announced both on the official website of the Municipality of Pomorie and information boards, and in a national daily, according to requirements of the Act. The Head Physician and the Director of the hospital were also informed about the upcoming tender. Two companies participated, one of which won and signed a contract with the Municipality of Pomorie.
  2. Regarding the deliberate attempt to manipulate public opinion with the statement that “the Municipal Council removed from the assets of the hospital only the premises of the lab and auctioned them,” a tender for doctor’s offices, located in Pomorie Hospital, was held on the same day of the tender for the lab.
  3. Regarding incorrect reports that “the law allows public municipal property to be rented for up to five years”, Art. 14, paragraph 7 of the Municipal Property Act states that “vacant properties or parts of them – public municipal property – can be rented for up to ten years under the conditions and in accordance with paragraph 2, following a decision of the municipal council.”
  4. The assertion that “Lina” has a contract with Pomorie Hospital is true, but unfortunately unlawful contractual relationship cannot be a motive for carrying out illegal activities. Pursuant to the Municipal Property Act, a company operating the medical diagnostic laboratory must have a contract with the municipality. Such is missing, and perhaps this is the reason why the existing laboratory has not paid rent for the premises in the course of 14 years.
  5. Regarding the claim that with my Order from 2013, the Pomorie municipality gives for free use to the General Hospital, the Unit of Neurology, the Unit of Pediatrics, the Unit of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the Unit of Surgery, Unit of Diagnostic Imaging, rooms for clinical diagnostic structures, a trestle and an elevator, this is due to the decision of the Municipal Council № 406 / December 20, 2012, after which I had to sign a contract for management of the Pomorie Hospital. Following the refusal of the Head Physician to sign the management contract, he, as manager of the Pomorie Hospital, has no right to sublet municipal premises, including the clinical diagnostic lab. By decision of the Municipal Council № 976 / April 29, 2014, item 7 of the earlier decision was voided and it was decided to conduct a procedure for public tender. The tender was held on November 26, 2014, where “Lina” has not submitted a bid and did not participate in it. The contracts between Pomorie Hospital and “Lina” have been notarized and registered by the Registry Judge on December 4, 2014 i.e. after the tender.
  6. There is no effective decision of the Governor of Burgas Mr. Valcho Cholakov revoking the tender held by the Municipality of Pomorie.
  7. Dr. Vasil Kostadinov’s speculative claims that “the municipal hospital will have to make unnecessary expenditures, because the Sofia-based company that won the illegal tender has no contract with the Regional Health Insurance Fund to operate on the territory of Pomorie Hospital” are not true. First, the tender is absolutely legitimate and candidates that submitted bids also submitted the necessary documentation as prescribed by the law and by the regulations of the Municipal Council of Pomorie, one of the requirements precisely being having a valid contract with NHIF. If this condition is not met, the company would not be able to participate in the tender. The company that won the tender fulfills all the requirements and submitted a certificate and a contract with NHIF. Moreover, the manager of the hospital deliberately transferred the certificates of the hospital lab to “Lina” and now the lab, which operates in Pomorie Hospital, is without a certificate.
  8. Regarding the purchased equipment under Operational Program Competitiveness of Bulgarian Economy in 2007-2013, the Pomorie Municipality, in its capacity of owner of the building of Pomorie Hospital, has not been informed by “Lina” about its participation in such project and has no relation to projects won by private investors. The aid granted through them is of the benefit of the beneficiary (in the case of “Lina”). The owner of the purchased equipment is “Lina” and as such, it has the right to dispose of it as it sees fit.

Pomorie Municipality has not stopped to financially assist Pomorie Hospital because our efforts are precisely geared towards keeping its medical services operational. Moreover, the Municipality is currently developing a draft proposal for the implementation of energy efficiency measures in the building of the hospital under the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area and the Norwegian Financial Mechanism. There is a forthcoming application for a project for the delivery of new specialized hospital equipment and for conducting training courses and seminars. The realization of all these projects will lead not only to the preservation of the hospital, but also to its development as such, offering quality healthcare.



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