Covid and lack of funding push nation's health system to brink of collapse.

When a priest arrives at a hospital in Chorzow to perform the last rites, nurse Mariusz Strug can see the fear in dying patients’ eyes. “After the sacrament, they knew what was happening,” he said.

But there have been no psychologists available to offer any consolation to the patients. Strug and another nurse would try to offer some kind words, but they were strained to the limit caring for 60 patients in their COVID-19 ward.

“People come to us and they want us nurses to perform a miracle,” said Strug.

Exhausted from working in such an understaffed system, he is among a group of health care workers who have come to Warsaw from across Poland for an around-the-clock protest outside the prime minister’s office that has gone on for nearly two weeks.

After a year and a half of the pandemic, and with Poland on the cusp of a fourth surge of COVID-19 infections, nurses, doctors, ambulance drivers and other health care workers have come to urge Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and other authorities to make deep reforms to the health care system, arguing that it is in danger of collapse.

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