Health Minister David Sergeenko said Iashvili Children’s Hospital was sold without any consultations with the ministry. (Interpressnews.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–Doctors at the largest children’s hospital in Georgia accuse its new owner of sexual harassment, physical abuse and religious discrimination.

Staff of several hospitals gathered outside the main entrance of Iashvili Hospital on Monday to protest against what they say is the unethical behavior of the new owner towards employees.

Apart from those working at Iashvili Hospital itself, the demonstration was also attended by personnel from Children’s New Hospital, Center of Pediatrics, Alergology and Rheumatology, the women’s medical center New Life and the Republican Center of Mother and Child Healthcare in Batumi.

They claim that Tekin Atik, a representative of Universal Hospitals Group, abused them physically, called several employees to his office and suggested double salary in return for a sexual relationship, asked them not to wear crosses and to remove religious icons from the walls.

Mariam Pirtskhalava, a doctor at Iashvili Hospital’s emergency department, said that a few days ago, Atik did not let her receive a heavily injured patient, threw her into another room, swore and began to break computers; accusations vehemently denied by Mr Atik.

He refused to meet the medical staff and discuss the allegations, but told journalists that he denies having physically abused the staff or done anything else unethical, but acknowledged breaking a computer upon hearing that hospital staff could not handle a CD with a patient’s tomography results.

Atik said that the medical personnel don’t know Turkish language and his loud talk was considered a sign of aggression. During the interview, employees of the hospital entered Atik’s cabinet, and claimed that he was lying.

They accuse Mr Atik of being drunk while visiting the hospital’s different departments and rudely interfering with the medical work.

The new owners have opened a free Turkish language course for personnel at Iashvili Hospital.

Marina Khaindrava and Manana Ioseliani, doctors at Iashvili Hospital, said that the new owners asked to treat patients belonging to the Muslim religion first, and that they have introduced a ban on wearing crosses and hanging Christian icons around the work desk, a widespread practice in Georgia with a predominantly Christian population.

Atik explained to journalists that the decision about icons ‘was made in Istanbul’ and that the owners plan to make chapels on every floor of the hospital.

Deputy Health Minister Dimitri Makharadze invited the parties to the ministry Monday evening, but efforts to settle the conflict were unsuccessful.

According to Health Minister David Sergeenko, Iashvili Children’s Hospital was sold without any consultations with the ministry.

“The previous owners did not consider it necessary to have any consultations or recommendations with the ministry or the new owner about the sale or any other conditions. The hospital is in private ownership, but this doesn’t mean that the owner shouldn’t coordinate its activities with healthcare system,” Sergeenko told journalists on Monday.