2006 Visit Reports

Spring Survey Report, April 2006

The team were Paul and Reg.

The Flat.  Leaks repaired by Paul and full hot and cold water facilities established.

The lock for the flat was serviced by Paul and now works satisfactorily. No longer a need to replace it.

Hospital  Arranged meeting with head nurse Stoica together with Doctor and resident psychiatrist. Generally bought up to date with events, discussed difficulties and problems.

Heating and Boiler  This appears to be their main concern. They have had no fuel for past 2 weeks, patients have had no heating (average air temperature – 9-10Deg C) Are washing in cold water and have not had a bath for 2 weeks. Current information is that fuel is expected on Wednesday 26th April.

Boiler Modifications  This is considered to be essential requirement and is being pursued actively by the director for completion during the summer months. An estimate of the cost is proceeding and there is every hope that work is going to be carried out. No action required by the NNRT but should there be a need the hospital will make the request.

Dental Surgery V Pharmacy  The position is that the pharmacy has priority over the dental surgery as the preferred facility, which was endorsed by the inspector, due to the closeness to the doctor’s surgery. The Hospital has keenly proposed a new site for the dental surgery and it is felt it is a project which could be considered by the NNRT.

The room designated for this purpose is the small room on the road side of the store room in the flat building, to be equipped to accommodate the dentist. (Further details attached as an appendix).

Kitchen  Found in good condition, all tiles still attached. Small paint repair required (about 10” diameter) however feel that this will get bigger when attempting the repair. There is sufficient paint in the store room, but these are new tins and might result in wastage unless further use can be found.

The kitchen floor has been completely tiled, and generally quite a good job, however due to a change of level round the stove, the edges can be damaged and has already happened, although these have been replaced. There is an obvious need for a 2” X 2” angle plate to be fitted (stainless or aluminium) to protect the edges. 17 metres required.

Washing Machine  This has been repaired and is believed to be a failure of the gearbox. Their main worry is that the warranty runs out in May and the need to financially cover the cost for any other breakdowns.

Heart cardiograph equipment  The Doctor said he was experiencing problems with the cardiograph after lengthy discussion between the nurse and the psychiatrist and doctor. It was agreed is was the doctor who requires the practice, an internal problem, no action required, the nurse will advise should there be a need.

Hospital Heating  There are many radiators that are not working which could be a combination of boiler output or radiator blockages. Enquires seem to indicate that they have not been flushed through for 10 years. Generally suggested that this could be the problem and should be reviewed when boiler has been modified. No commitment made.

Hospital Boundary Fence.  Security of boundary fencing to be improved by replacing faulty sections. Wood planks and posts available. Work to be carried out by hospital staff. In addition, they are constructing a new seating area, interlocking brick base, about 6 metres diameter, with overhead loggia. Brick base already constructed so hopefully the rest will follow.

Dentistry Equipment  The dentist cart was received and unpacked by Istvan, and was found to be satisfactory. Unfortunately although the packet of gaskets and nozzles were found, the turbo’s which should have been there were missing. The new cart was connected to the compressor in the dentistry, and tested and found to be satisfactory. However since the turbo’s sent with the cart were missing, an endeavour was made to see if any of the turbo’s existing in the dentistry would be suitable. There was some measure of success. Of the 4 turbo’s found, 2 were suitable for operation. Unfortunately the cart has 2 hoses for the turbo’s and for each to operate, an adaptor is required.

Visit to the Dentist in Vulcan  We visited the dentist to view the surgery and establish requirements for the proposed surgery. These will be incorporated in the separate report of the proposed dental surgery room.

The Car  Was serviced recently, brakes renewed (thankfully) and defective Speedo replaced. The only pressing repair is for the left hand wing which has rusted through on the top. Probable solution would be to replace the wing.

Food for the Hospital  £300 was handed over to Nurse Stoica which is attached with comments.

Meeting at the school  Met Kindergarten teacher Codreanu Garofita. Requested cleaning fluids, disinfectant, paint and varnish. Allocated £50 for this purpose and bills have been included. During discussion it arose that there was a need for a new fuel (wood) store to be constructed from materials that they will supply. The proposal is for a 6M x 3M building to be positioned adjacent to the old store at the back of the school. It is to be fully enclosed, wooden walls. Suspect that the roof will be corrugated steel or similar, and would need to be supplied. Currently 2.4 X 1.2m sheets are approx £7 each.

The concrete fencing is still falling over. It would appear that the solution is to dig out the back to allow the posts to be pulled back, concreted to secure and replace broken panels. Eight concrete panels will be required. Unable to find a supplier, but alternative material could be reviewed.

In the Kindergarten toilet area, they would appreciate a facility to ventilate the area. From inspection it would appear that the solution is to remove a pane of glass from the existing window and replace with a constructed casement window (made by team using hospital workshop equipment?) It is also considered by Paul that the efficiency of the toilets could be improved by the fitting of 2 siphon or overflow traps.

Paint and Varnish purchased and supplied which they are going to apply. The outside walls are to be painted shortly, and the apron between building and front gate is to be concreted. The new teacher is the niece of the mayor, perhaps this has influenced some decisions.

They are experiencing some difficulties with the computer which will not run continuously. Shuts down, can restart but shuts down again. Suspected there is a latent virus even though it has virus protection. They have requested a replacement printer cartridge (ref: Canon FC2045) Istvan estimates £80 each, however since this is considered a 6 month consumable item and the computer is not working, feel that this does not require consideration. The Computer at present located in teacher’s office. It would be appreciated if they could have a supply of 13 amp 3 pin plugs.

New Dentist Surgery  It is proposed that the new surgery will be located in the “Flat” building, the room selected for use is the one next to the large store room and situated immediately behind “Flat” staircase. It currently has an access door from large store and window facing the main gates.

The work requires for this room to be a workable surgery is as follows.

  1. New door to be cut through from the passageway. Fit door and frame with lintel. Door and frame cost £60-£70.
  2. Brick up existing door, render and finish.
  3. Remove existing 6’ X 1 ½’ window and replace by 4’ X4’ half open style D.G. window, and make good. Window approx £90 - £110.
  4. Reposition lighting switch, located on the large store side of door to be bricked up, adjacent to new entrance door (1). Provide, fit and connect two 5’ sealed fluorescent, fitting on wall or ceiling as convenient. Provide fit and connect three double socket outlets (earthed). Supply, fit and connect small cold feed through flow water, hot water heater adjacent to sink. 5’ Fluorescent fitting - £16.
  5. Supply and fit small sink (£15), connect cold water supply and direct waste pipe through front wall to connect with soil pipe at the opposite end of the building. (need to be excavated about 18” down) Step to be modified.
  6. Provide surgical spittoon for surgery chair together with associated water and drain facilities.
  7. Electrical supply required for chair lamp and room heaters.
  8. To consider the need for suspended ceiling (height of room 3 ½ metres) which can be purchased locally at approx £5 sq metre, 12 sq metres required for ceiling.
  9. Splash back tiles to be fixed to back of sink as a minimum. Walls to be finished with a washable paint. If 1.5 metres height of tile is considered, 20 sq metres will be required.
  10. Arising from discussion with dentist, the additional equipment that would be required is:  Desk, chair, small table, medicine cabinet. These have not been costed.
  11. Supply and lay floor tiles approx 12 sq metres.

Lighting - There are about 12 Fluorescent light fittings requiring replacement. 5 in kitchen area, 5 in dining room area, 1 each outside front of hospital and front door of occupational therapy unit. These can be purchased locally, sealed units around £16 each. Suggest these be used for kitchen and outside – ie total of 7. The remaining would be cheaper batten fittings. The replacement would only require a closing length of conduit since they are shorter than the fittings already installed.

Summer Visit Report, July 2006

Unfortunately, for the first time in many years, we had insufficient skilled members available to attend during the summer visit and work on the projects identified for this year.  The prime project for 2006 was to build a Dental Surgery (see link for more detail) within the downstairs storage area of the flat.  It was decided that to facilitate this task, we would employ skilled local labour to perform the work, under the management of Istvan.  Andy and Vanessa visited for a couple of days in July to arrange the work force, agree and document the terms of reference for the work with Istvan, and ensure the funds are in place locally to pay for materials and labour.

Our flight was fine, and the trip to Mina had no problems, the only legacy affect of the bird flu was vehicles being sprayed as you go in and out of Codlea

We secured a local workforce to build the dental surgery under the management of Istvan, and the work started while we were there.  We agreed fixed rates for the builders, and full payment only on completion of an acceptable job, and the work must be completed by the end of August.  We brought the Dentist up from Vulcan to ensure what we built was what she needed and wanted. 

We had a long meeting with Stoica, and she seemed well after her recent operation. It seems the local councils have allegedly pledged money towards fuel etc, but they have said that before.  We will have to wait and see if this materialises.

Despite our limited time, we still managed to spend some time with the patients.  There were a few new faces, and John the Painter has superbly redecorated many of the wards and the laundry area.

The fences surrounding the hospital are all being replaced, and most now look in good condition.  Bizarrely, the incinerator now contains sawdust.


The kitchen still looks in excellent condition, and the work of the previous year seems to have proven hard wearing.


The food situation was as usual poor, and we realised we would again need to buy supplies for the Hospital, which we decided we would get on the Saturday.  For those of you living on another planet, I should advise you that on the Saturday evening England were playing Portugal in the World Cup quarter-final.

Saturday turned out to be a 'fulfilling', yet disappointing day for various reasons.  We had a hearty breakfast about 8:30 as we knew we had a long day coming up, and went down to the school to fix their PC and do some plumbing repairs to the toilets.  We were collared by Garafitsa who was adamant we had a BBQ.  We explained we were out in the evening, but it wouldn't wash....so at 11:30 a BBQ with the usual villagers !  We were stuffed ! 

In the afternoon we did the food shop for the hospital, and with the help of hospital staff managed to get everything back in two vehicles.  It was the usual mix of pasta, sauces, tinned vegetables, fruit and personal hygiene products.

We had decided we were going to watch the England footy somewhere in Brasov.  We went via Istvans to see Enoke (who is fine, and baby number two well on the way).  Of course as per tradition, loads of gorgeous home made cakes.  We were even more stuffed.

We had our England shirts on (even forcing Istvan to wear one), and the car flags on the Dacia.  We got a few odd looks driving through Brasov ! We found an Irish bar in Brasov high street showing the footy and settled down, flags prominent on the table with pride.  We surprisingly only saw a couple of other 'English' supporters.  As the game progressed, and who was cheering what (especially when Rooney was sent off), it became obvious we were in the significant minority, and when Ronaldo put in the final penalty we knew we were in with a load of Portugese fans, and those that weren't were certainly anti English.  What were they all doing in an Irish Bar ?  We beat a hasty exit, and ended up in Mados for yet more food !

Costica was well, and 'socialised' with us as only he can.  We also managed to spend a bit of time with some of our friends in the village.  We spent time with Simon who has now got himself a passport, and is hoping to get a Visa to make a visit to see the Pope.  Most of the other patients seemed in good health, although some of our long standing friends have deteriorated.  This was certainly noticeable in Popescu.

Luminitsa was in the village, and was hoping to get a 'permanent' visa for the UK to live with Russell in the near future.

We left to return home on the Sunday afternoon....or so we thought.   Having queued for 45 minutes to check in, we found that we weren't on the flight, due to what turned out to be a booking error by BA.  There were no free seats on the flight, or on the next two days.  We ended up having to buy tickets to travel back the next day on a Tarom flight.  We managed to get ourselves booked into a local Airport Hotel overnight which became our 'home' for the next 15 hours.  We eventually arrived home at about 1:30pm on the Monday.

Autumn Visit Report, October 2006

Team Members Vanessa and Peter Tolson, Wendy Stevens and Piers Lindlay visited between the 10th and 17th of October 2006.

An uneventful journey apart from a 2 hour delay at Heathrow. Having boarded the plane all sorts of technical faults developed.  Arrived safely and was met by Istvan and his cousin in another vehicle. Travelled straight to Brasov for an evening meal where we met Eniko and the young one.

On the Tuesday met the head nurse and the resident doctor. Hospitality was as good as ever. Piers had his first taste of Touica.

We all did a tour of the hospital and found everything to be in reasonable condition. One problem was that the washing machine had broken down yet again. We believe that there is a design fault resulting in the failure of a driving gear in the main motor chain. Given the part, it is easy to repair. We also think that the gear is made from substandard material.  The hospital is trying to get a local engineering company to make several for future use.

From an engineering point of view, the work performed during the week centered on running maintenance, and finishing off the dental studio.

The dental surgery was to all intents finished apart from lagging pipes and reinstalling door locks that were badly fitted. We had also sent over a new sterilizer which unfortunately had no instructions. With a bit of trial and error, this was sorted and a set of instructions was downloaded from the Internet for Istvan to translate into Romanian.  We also fitted a no-smoking sign on the door in the studio.

Other work entailed lagging the water pipes in the hallway, repairing an area of paint in the kitchen and painting the railings outside the flat with the remaining paint.  We also re-glazed some windows in the flat and generally draft proofed for winter.  A new tap was installed in the store room with a stop cock. Also installed the wiring and set up a new computer in the same store room.

Some time was spent mixing with the patients. We purchased a table tennis set, and proceeded to set it up in the kitchen area. One or two promising players emerged.

The school seemed fine, and some spare 3 pin plugs were given to Garofita. A fuse was also repaired in the computer.

Garofita approached us about the doctors surgery in the village square. She asked us if we could provide the money for her to purchase a heater. As it was so cold, the doctor said she would only keep visiting the village if there was some form of heating.

We asked to see the premises before promising anything.  The surgery was in fact half a house which was empty. We thought that this was a project we could attempt given the right agreements from the mayor.

In the interim period, we have purchased a new oil filled radiator and extension lead to be installed. Hopefully in the future, we can do something more substantial for them. We are currently seeking the agreement to allow us to take on this project next year. 

Winter Visit Report, December 2006

The ‘Christmas’ visit was performed by Andy Walker and Derek Sipthorpe between the 9th and 14th December 2006.

After a good flight, we were looking forward to seeing the snow on the mountains during our approach.  No snow, in fact we couldn’t see anything during the descent.  It was thick fog, and the first visibility of the runway was as the plane was only a few feet above it.  Despite this, an excellent landing.  Istvan met us and had been worried the flight would be diverted due to the fog as it was rare in Bucharest.  The fog ensured that we had a slow drive to Mina and arrived in Mina at about 7:30pm.

In addition to the normal reasons for the December visit, a survey was to be performed in relation to the proposed project for the 2007 summer visit.  This was to completely renovate an old run down building to become a Doctors dispensary for the village.

On the Sunday, we visited the proposed Dispensary.

Our initial findings in summary were similar to the October team.

The toilet area was in an awful state and completely unusable.  There was no water or sewage outlet for it.
Plaster was missing from the reception area.  It would need to be fully rendered.
The interior plaster was damp up to about 1-2ft height all around, and up to about 3ft on the road facing wall with the window.
The inside windows appeared sound and could probably be made good.
There was only one power socket on the far wall.  The source of the electricity was local to the house with a meter above the front door.
The ceiling appeared damp in places and would need repair.
The floor of the main room was damp underneath its lino.
Outside, the front ‘garden’ area, and surrounding trench were very boggy.
The outside windows and frame would need to be replaced.
The plaster had come off the front outside wall and the bricks from the foundation upwards were damp and crumpling, and really needed to be replaced.
The fence would need to be replaced.
The front door and surrounding windows would need to be replaced.
There is a sewage drain in the middle of the road about 15m from the property, but it is believed its height makes it impractical to use.

We then spoke to the neighbour in the house attached to the right, with enlightening findings.

Rather then the rear walls of the building going into a yard, it was identified they were actually the divider to other properties.  The houses did not go to the full depth of the building, but were split into two properties across the middle.  This meant we could do nothing from the rear of the house, or affect the dividing wall.
The house to the front left had limited water source, and no sewage.  There was not even an internal toilet.
The water was sourced from a pipe running along a trench at the front of the building.  There was a break in the pipe outside the building, and in other areas as well, which was the main reason for the constant flooding at the front. Also it was believed the pump was not working.  It has been like this for a couple of years.  In addition, rain water comes down the hill from the village and finishes up at the base of these buildings.
Due to the above, floors in the all properties in the block had become damp.
The lady next door who has renovated her property said that she had water and raw sewage outlets installed.  We checked this, and they were straight into the stream beside the property !

We then visited the neighbours whose properties backed onto the Dispensary.  They were very helpful, and one gentleman explained even more to us.

His property had been severely affected by the damp.  He had to rebuild his floor with damp insulation and concrete to about 6 inches higher than original.  This had not resolved the source of the damp problem, just circumvented it.
He has also had to insulate and replaster his walls.
He explained that they shared the internal water pipes, but due to leaking, they had been disconnected between his property and the dispensary.
He confirmed that the roof leaked and many tiles were in poor condition.
He explained that the stove utilised a shared chimney with his property.
He said that proper reparation of the Dispensary building would benefit all residents in the block as it was the cause of several of their problems.

So, what were our first thoughts ?

We decided that as there were no sewage facilities, with the exception of piping direct into a stream about 50m away, it would not be practical to make the toilet operative.
The toilet area could be made into a storage room.
The walls would all need to be rendered, insulated and replastered.
The floor would need to be insulated and screeded.
The brickwork at the front of the house would need to be replaced, as a minimum from the foundations to window level.
The breakages to the water pipes would have to be fixed.
The current location of the sink would have to be moved due to the water source from the other property not being operational.  It would be logical to move it to the front wall of the house, then take a spur from the ‘repaired’ water pipe into the house.
Several other electrical sockets would have to be installed around the room.
Leaks from the roof area would need to be repaired.

On the Monday morning, Istvan managed to arrange a 20 minute meeting with the Mayor of Vulcan and Mina.  He speaks good English, and seemed very supportive of the project.

He was very keen for us to progress with the project if we felt we could achieve it.
He was adamant there should be a toilet facility.  He explained that in the next few years it was planned to implement proper sewage management in Mina.  Until that happens, he said he was prepared to fund and install a septic tank for the Dispensary (but not for all the residents in the block), to allow us to proceed.  Access to this could then be via the front door area, then into the front ‘garden’ area.
He said he would arrange any authorisations required to dig up the ‘public’ area of the road.
He also committed to replacing the damaged water pipes along the trench with new pipes and providing a spur into the Dispensary.
With regard to any funding of roof repairs, he was non committal. 
The rest of the project would need to be funded and resourced by the charity.

So, second thoughts then.

If the Mayor fulfilled his commitments, then we could consider the project, with a toilet.
It is undoubtedly a big job, expensive, and will require a range of skilled labourers to achieve it.  Builders, brickies, roofers, carpenters, plumbers, and electricians.  Due to the size of the room, not all could work in parallel, and many of the jobs will be dependent on the completion of others.  This would not be a job where you throw lots of people at it in a short period like the kitchen in the hospital.
The other residents in the block would obviously benefit from the fixed water pipes and reduced dampness, but how would they feel with sewage facilities being provided to the Dispensary but not them ?
A subsequent visit to the building on Tuesday proved the brickwork at the front of the house was too damp and dangerous to leave.  It would need to be totally rebuilt up to the window sill level.
It was also determined that it would be more effective to replace the windows in the main room, and the entrance hall with proper double glazed windows.  It would also be prudent when replacing the front door to build in a lintel, which does not currently appear to be there. 
The other concern is that the state of the beams in the roof is unknown.  Access to the roof area is available from the neighbour to the right.  This would have to be agreed with her in advance. If it turns out the roof requires major repairs, then this could make the project difficult to take on.



We met with the Head Nurse on the Monday.

The most encouraging sign was that she has sufficient food through to next year, and their was no requirement for us to purchase any during this visit, with the exception of some fruit which she said would be appreciated.  The only other requirement was shampoo.

In addition, she confirmed she also has sufficient fuel for the foreseeable future.

We discussed requirements for the patients.  It was agreed we would do the usual gifts of assorted chocolate, drinks, fruit and sweets.  We were asked if we could provide a new mug for each of the patients.  In addition, the hospital would provide either new socks or a scarf/hat for each patient, depending on whether they went out during the winter months.

We delivered some additional dental equipment to the main hospital in Brasov.  We met with Mrs Popescu the Finance Director of the main hospital in Brasov, and discussed various issues with her.

Monday was a hectic day, but from the £300 of donations we managed to purchase plenty of goodies for the patients, including 150 mugs, without even touching the charity funds.


Tuesday, we visited Brasov to arrange the plaque for the dental surgery.  We also visited the Metro yet again to buy the fresh fruit for the patients.

We visited the school and interrupted one of Garofita’s lessons.  We spent an enjoyable 30 minutes on ‘non curricula’ activities with the children in the kindergarten.  It is amazing how they change in front of a camera and video !


We were treated to a musically extravaganza by the Kindergarten kids.  Garofita (having plied us with plenty of brandy) then turned the tables on us by requesting we sing to the kids. For failing in this task we were threatened with the cane.   

There have been some recent changes to the infrastructure of the school.  This work was authorised by the Mayor to be performed by local gypsies.  The chimneys have been rebuilt.  Flashing has been put in on the roof.  Cheap second hand guttering has been installed all round.  On the day we arrived, they completed concreting the whole grass area in front of the entrances to the school.  The concrete was not laid evenly and sloped slightly towards the school.  With lots of water coming down from the hill behind, it will now be guided by the slope to the edge and foundations of the school.  This will probably lead to flooding, and the footings and floor of the school becoming damp.  The charity will have to consider the impact of this during the next visit.


During the evening was the arduous task of bagging up the gifts for 150 patients to be given out tomorrow.  



Wednesday, where is the snow and cold ?  Beautiful day. The Dental Surgery was officially opened in the morning, and the first patient was Giorgio who had been waiting for days for treatment and wanted to be the first one in.  The dentist put her equipment to good use and treated a few patients during the morning.  The plaque to show the surgery was funded by the NNRT was put up.


After getting the staff to carry all the bags and shampoo across to the hospital, the distribution of the gifts commenced.  It was encouraging the increased number of patients who didn’t just take their bags, but made a genuine effort to come and thank us personally.  We spent quite a bit of time going round the wards and ‘socialising’ with the patients.


As the weather was so good (warm, sunny and sunglasses), during the afternoon, we had a few hours photo shooting and videoing. 



Thursday, the usual run back to the airport.

 What else did we do ?

After many years of being able to watch people through the upper glass windows between the bathroom and kitchen in the flat, Wendy kindly made a curtain to be put up.  This has been done and looks excellent.  You can now shower and ablute in private !
The second steraliser which had been provided by Tom was taken from Mina to the main hospital in Brasov and was received by Dr Popescu so that they can put it to use. 
The repaired paint in the kitchen was checked and his holding up fine, no peeling or bubbling.
The gaps around the edge of the dining room, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom in the flat in the flat have been filled with expanding foam.  Due to the time to dry, the next team visiting will have to do the trimming work on it.
While distributing the gifts to the patients we met up with two Dutch girls in the hospital.  They have been living in Codlea for 3 months.  Initially they were at an orphanage, but for the last 6 weeks they have been visiting the hospital every morning to be with the patients.  They are not part of the Charity which Leah the other Dutch lady is involved in, but they do know her.  They were returning to Holland Wednesday evening to get their Visa’s renewed, then coming back to Codlea on Saturday for another 3 months.  It was interesting discussing their perception of the hospital and the care the patients are receiving.
Again while distributing the gifts, a rough review was done of the state of the mattresses.  At a guess, about 50% really needed replacing.
We met up with Simon and checked out the washing machine.  It had previously been out of action for about 2 weeks.  They faulty cog has now been replaced, and they have two spare ones for the future.

 Disappointments ?

The weather.  We were hoping for crisp cold snow, instead we got mild days, nights only around freezing and fog !  Opportunities for character photos and videos were restricted.