Covid-19: Romania is paying in human lives the price of a failed deinstitutionalisation process


In the context of recent informationi concerning the restriction of access to medical treatment for persons with disabilities in the Deva County Hospital, as well as the transferii of patients from the same hospital to residential centers in Hunedoara county, and the subsequent infection of other elderly or disabled residents, the Center for Legal Resources draws attention to the fact that the violation of the right to health of these persons may lead to the violation of their right to life.

Even in the absence of a pandemic, in Romania, institutionalized persons with disabilities, especially those with intellectual or psychosocial disabilities, were already subject to discrimination and restriction of access to adequate health care services. The violation of the right to life and the inhuman and degrading conditions in these centers have been presented publicly and have been sanctioned by international fora and the European Court of Human Rights.

Mr. Prime Minister and Mr. Minister of Health, we draw your attention to the fact that, in the context of this pandemic, the right to health of persons with disabilities and the elderly cannot be achieved through isolation in recovery and rehabilitation centers, medical-social units or nursing homes. In order to ensure their right to health, we request that you order that their hospitalization be carried out in the specialized hospital wards on an equal basis with others, and order the testing of all residents with disabilities and the elderly in residential centers, as well as the testing of all employees who will be entering these centers (including those coming from home isolation).

Based on over 150 telephone discussions carried out by CLR with representatives of residential centers for persons with disabilities and nursing homes, three essential aspects emerged:

  1. Residents with disabilities have become infected with COVID-19 after being hospitalized in the Deva County Hospital and the Hunedoara Hospital, and were discharged in residential centers from Păclișa, Brănișca and Orăștie, without having been tested. The most recent example is that of a resident from the Brănișca Care and Assistance Center. The resident with disabilities was hospitalized in the Deva Hospital at the beginning of March. Discharged without having been tested, he infected five other roommates. A similar situation occurred at the Păclișa Care and Assistance Center, where the test results were expected two days ago. Several residents were confirmed yesterday to be COVID-19 positive. Considering, at the same time, the situation of the infected elderly persons transferred to the Orăștie nursing home, the seriousness of human rights violations in this county becomes evident.

  1. Restriction of access to specialized care, treatment and equipment for persons with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities in the Deva County Hospital. According to recently published press articlesiii, the residents with disabilities from the Păclișa Care and Assistance Center were refused admission to the county hospital because of their intellectual disability and the lack of specialists in psychiatry and psychology. This justification constitutes discrimination on the grounds of disability and can lead to a worsening of the health of some of the most vulnerable and “well-hidden” members of our society.

  1. The failure to deinstitutionalize persons with disabilities and to access European and national funds made available for this purpose to the Sasca Mică Neuropsychic Recovery and Rehabilitation Center in Suceava County proved to be tragic in the context of this pandemic. The infection of almost 300 residents with disabilities and the increased risk of death for many of them could have been avoided if the management of this center, the Suceava County Council and the Suceava General Directorate for Social Assistance and Child Protection, had accessed HCOP/ROP or NIP (Regional Operational Programme, Human Capital Operational Programme and National Interest Programme) lines of funding available since 2018 especially for this center. Overcrowded spaces, such as those in the centers, favored the spread of the virus. Where people with disabilities have access to sheltered housing and community services, the spread is very low.

Therefore, the Center for Legal Resources calls for:

  • Urgent testing of all residents and employees in residential centers for persons with disabilities, medical-social units and nursing homes;

  • The implementation of hospital admission and discharge procedures for patients that do not encumber the efforts to prevent COVID-19 infections carried out by the social assistance system;

  • Accelerating the transition process towards community living for institutionalized persons with disabilities.

For more information:
Georgiana Pascu, Program Manager, Centre for Legal Resources, tel. 0729 881159, email:

About CLR:


ii Based on information collected by CLR through telephone discussions with representatives of residential centers
iii Online news media, Libertatea,