Origins of the AIHA Project
The Goodwill Games
Aeons ago, Ted Turner ran an Olympics-like U.S.-U.S.S.R. (and later, U.S.-Russia) set of summer games on even-numbered years between summer Olympics. For example, in 1994 they were to be held in Sankt-Peterburg.
But wait — what if some Very Important People (by which Ted's gang meant Americans) were to be injured or fall ill while in Russia?
If you think that this worry implies that they thought that Russia was then some sort of Third-World cesspool where medicine has not yet developed to the level of blood-letting and witch-doctoring, well, yeah, I think that was their intent....
As we saw, and as I write in the next session, the infrastructure may have been crumbling and they may have been lacking in materials with which to work. But a bunch of Americans implying that Russians might be under-educated is about as silly as it gets.
But let's not get too hung up on reality — what if Ted Turner, or Jane Fonda, or some other Very Important American were to be injured or fall ill? Medevac to Helsinki might not be practical. So, Ted funded the creation of a VIP Suite in a Sankt-Peterburg hospital. It was pointed out that any travel around the city took ages because of the crumbling pavement. This would really slow down any ambulance transport, and would also get in the way of TV coverage of events in widely-spread venues. So, Ted funded the repaving of some streets. Some of which actually happened, and much of which became booty siphoned off by various corrupt city staff and their connections.
Ted funded, and Ted's people supervised, the creation of a "western-style" VIP suite within the hospital known as Medical-Sanitary Unit #122 in the Name of Sokolov. I don't know, maybe U.S. hospitals routinely have VIP suites. But I think this was a uniquely Turneresque thing.
Before the Goodwill Games, the same Swedish contracting firm would start renovating one wing of one floor of that hospital under USAID funding and AIHA administration. Not to Turneresque VIP standards, but to Swedish/U.S. hospital standards. The result would be one hall with a nurses' station, a couple of treatment rooms, and 12-14 patient rooms. Plus, of course, the VIP Suite. This would then serve as example and motivation for further renovation throughout the hospital.
Not much happened without the oversight of Ted's people and with AIHA incommunicado in their bubble in Moscow. The Swedish firm was there a time or two before the Goodwill Games, but that was about it.
The VIP Suite became popular after the Goodwill Games with the мафия, or mafiya.
Look at it this way — the mafiya was one group of people who had the money to pay for top treatment. So what if they used it more like a spa? The mafiya use of the VIP Suite subsidized the operation of the hospital for the people in the neighborhood.
When I was there you would find a couple of guys from OMON, the paramilitary police force, guarding the entrance to the VIP Suite. Yes, members of the government's paramilitary police work for the mob.
Once we were going around to all the other rooms checking on the electrical wiring for good grounding. The mobster of the week said sure, have them come in here and check my room, I wouldn't want to get electrocuted. He was a nice man in a bathrobe and slippers, staying with his wife in what seemed to be a nice hotel suite (one that just happened to be located within a medical facility).
He had been there for several weeks. He first went there with some medical issues — he was the victim of a botched hit, and had a neck wound from a shot that was just a bit off target.
A couple of weeks later, when he was recuperated from the wound but still hanging out, it seems that someone tried to kill him with a poisoned meal. Another near miss, as his wife ate the poisoned fruit.
You might say, "Oh, maybe it was just food poisoning", especially after reading the next section and seeing the pictures of the food storage facilities. But canned fruit generally isn't accidentally tainted with high levels of thallium. Then again, see the even later section about radiation detectors in street markets.
She was rushed downstairs and had her stomach pumped, and now the OMON was guarding the door and he was having his meals delivered.