Several dozen local government officials from Lower Silesia appeared on Thursday in front of the Wałbrzych hospital in a gesture of solidarity with the city’s president, Roman Szełeme. The day before, several hundred inhabitants of Wałbrzych took part in the “march of silence”, providing support for their ruler. Szełemej, a cardiologist by profession, was dismissed from work in the hospital after 36 years.
On Friday, September 17, the Specialist Hospital. A. Sokołowski in Wałbrzych informed in a statement on termination of the employment contract with the President of Wałbrzych, Roman Szełemej. He worked in the hospital as a cardiologist. The hospital explained the decision as “a gross violation of basic employee duties”. Shelemey himself considered the dismissal politically motivated.
The president of Wałbrzych was supported by, inter alia, Adam Bodnar, former Ombudsman, as well as politicians from the Civic Platform. A statement in support of Szełemej was issued by local government officials associated in the Lower Silesia Common Case Association, and on national convention of the PO in Płońsk Borys Budka declared that “he would not allow decent people to be treated in this way”. The hashtag #MuremZaRomanem was created.
Support from Lower Silesian local government officials
On Thursday, several dozen local government officials associated in the Lower Silesia Common Case appeared in front of the Wałbrzych hospital.
– Roman Szełemej worked in this hospital for 36 years. He made himself known as an excellent organizer in such a difficult covid time, and made Wałbrzych a model of a city that perfectly copes with vaccinating residents. Therefore, it is difficult not to get the impression that his dismissal was determined by political reasons, just at the time when he was talking about the situation in the health service and arguing for the most important matters deciding about life – said Jacek Sutryk, Mayor of Wrocław.
The dismissal of Dr. Szełemej, Mayor of Świdnica, Beata Moskal-Słaniewska, called a scandal. – For those who made this decision, I do not wish they would ever have to face the enormous problems that Roman Szełemej encountered every day while working as a doctor. I do not wish any of these gentlemen to let their patients die on their hands. That they would have the dilemma of where to put the sick when there is no room even in the corridor. (…) A great harm was done to this institution. It was Roman Szełemej who launched the first vaccination point in Poland, and I admire him for his superhuman diligence – she emphasized.
Jerzy Łużniak, mayor of Jelenia Góra, also argued about the advantages of Roman Szełemej. – He often says that he is a doctor first, and then a local government official. He can unite us, for example as part of the Sudety 2030 project. His phone was always pulsating, and he interrupted our meetings, answered and consulted. He did not work 24 hours a day, but 25 hours a day. (…) And saying that you cannot combine the functions of a local government official and a doctor is absurd – he stressed.
– He showed how you can manage a city and heal people at the same time. And someone like that is sent away. Someone who lifted Wałbrzych, a difficult post-mining town – said Emilian Bera, mayor of Jawor.
Support for the president
The day before, on Wednesday, about 200 city residents gathered in front of the hospital in Wałbrzych to demonstrate their support for Roman Szełemej. Patients and relatives of people whom the doctor had helped spoke up. There was an over 80-year-old marathon runner whose life was saved by Szełemej. There were banners, cards with the inscription “MuremZaRomanem”, some brought white roses and city flags. Posters with expressions of support were left in front of the gate.
– Last year I used hospital care after a bicycle accident. I have been put together well, thanks to which I have a good hand. From my friends who work both in the office and in the hospital, I heard how much the president puts his heart and himself into work. He devoted 36 years to build this hospital and I consider it a great harm to the city, the region and Wałbrzych inhabitants, his release – said one of the participants, Mr. Rafał.
And Mr. Wiesław praised: – This is an icon of the city, it is a man difficult to replace. This is an idol, a leader. such a person has simply not been in Wałbrzych yet.
How the president of Wałbrzych was fired
In a statement issued after dismissal, “The decision is justified by a gross violation of basic employee duties, and this is the obligation to care for the welfare of the workplace, expressed in causing disorganization of the work of the Hospital, undermining the competences of the supervisor – acting as the hospital director, the duty to perform work in a reliable and effective manner, compliance with the agreed working time, compliance with work regulations, expressed in violation of the provisions of the work regulations in the field of confirming working time with the use of proximity cards, non-compliance with the working time established in the workplace, including unauthorized leaving the hospital during on-call duty, irregularities in the settlement of working time, failure to perform Employer’s orders, failure to perform the duties of the Head of the Cardiology Department “- it was written in the statement.
The president of Wałbrzych referred to the decision of the hospital authorities on the same day. He stated that she was politically motivated.
– The entire summary of my 36 years of work and 20 years of running the cardiology department took about three minutes. The arguments given in the justification are completely immaterial. The real reason for the dismissal is my disagreement with the fact that the hospital in Wałbrzych – and in fact also other hospitals in Lower Silesia – is facing a gigantic crisis with which we did not want and do not want to come to terms with. Posing difficult questions about the future of hospitals, their condition, the plan of how they should function, how the oncological and hematological treatment is to function, unfortunately resulted in such consequences – Roman Szełemej emphasized in an interview with TVN24.
TVN24 Wrocław, Wrocław City Hall
Main photo source: Wroclaw City Hall