I humbly confess that I had never heard of Lajos Papp as a world famous cardiologist, as some people call him, before his name kept cropping up in extreme right-wing circles. To my mind, he is the parody of all those semi-mad nationalists who think that God just dropped them into the twenty-first century by mistake and that their real selves rode next to Chieftain Árpád leading the Hungarians into the Carpathian basin at the end of the ninth century. For everybody’s edification here is Dr. Papp’s, pardon, Professor Papp’s portrait.
I corrected myself because today when György Bolgár introduced him as Dr. Lajos Papp, renowned cardiologist, he corrected him: he was Professor Papp. To my mind Dr. or Professor Papp is a little mad and I’m surprised to see that some people take him seriously as a man whose only purpose in life is “to heal the Hungarian People.” Written this way: both words capitalized although according to Hungarian spelling rules neither “Hungarian” (magyar) nor “people” (emberek) is capitalized. But, obviously, for our super nationalist this is not good enough.
But if his aim is “to heal the Hungarian People” who put him through school and without whom he would be nothing, then why did he announce, in an open letter published in Magyar Nemzet, his retirement not only from his job as director of the Heart Center (Szívcentrum) of the Pécs University’s medical school but also from his work as a surgeon? In his letter and many of his subsequent interviews we learn the answer: the Hungarian government, the ministry of health, the president of his university are all guilty of “Hungarian Genocide” and he will not assist them in their murderous activities. Why are they murderers? Because they demand that he spend only a certain amount of money, less than he would like. The murderers above him want to make sure that he schedules cases so that the center can break even financially, with urgent cases of course receiving top priority. Whether this is a good method of controlling cost, I can’t tell. However, this is the situation and I’m sure that really urgent cases are handled immediately and that no one died or is dying because of neglect.
It seems to me that Professor Papp and some of his enterprising colleagues came to the conclusion sometime back in March that they as entrepreneurs could do a better job than the government. In plain language, they wanted to privatize the services of the Heart Center in Pécs. It seems that neither the dean of the Medical School nor the president of the university had any intention of allowing them to privatize the center. Instead, they warned Papp several times to improve the Heart Center’s financial performance: month after month it was in the red. And then came the open letter that appeared in Magyar Nemzet, in which he called the president of the university a mass murderer who is responsible for a number of deaths. In the same open letter Papp also announced his plans for retirement within a few weeks. It seems that this letter was the last straw for the president of the university: a couple of days ago he announced that after consultation with the dean of the Medical School he decided to relieve Papp of his duties as of the end of this month.
One would have thought that Papp, who wanted to retire anyway, would leave quietly. After all, he didn’t want to be part of the Hungarian Genocide committed in the medical field by the Gyurcsány government. But no, what did I hear this morning? Dr. Papp is contesting his dismissal. According to him, he was appointed for five years to head the Heart Center of the Pécs Medical School, and therefore he is legally the head of the center until 2012. Unless he was sentenced by a Hungarian court for a misdemeanor or was deemed incompetent he has the right to his job until that time. And surely he was neither sentenced nor is incompetent. He explained that years ago he had been in a similar situation and then it took him nine years to win his case against his former employer. But now he doesn’t have that much time: he himself has had six heart operations and surely he will die before a Hungarian court rules in his favor. Thus the whole thing is about as confused as Dr. Papp himself. Does he want to retire or not? Did he want to privatize the Heart Center? What does it mean that he doesn’t want to work anymore as a surgeon but “he wants to heal the Hungarian People”? Why is he suing the university if he wanted to retire anyway?
It seems that working with Dr. Papp is not an easy business. Rumors are flying about conflicts at every job he has ever held. I’m sure that his nine-year fight in a dispute with a former employer is just the tip of the iceberg. There are other rumors: apparently he not only accepted money in envelopes from grateful patients, which is not illegal, but he demanded a certain fee ahead of the surgical procedure, which is illegal. I have relatives in Pécs with medical connections, and the rumor in town is that the fee was 100,000 Ft for the world famous surgeon to operate on you. That may not seem overly expensive, after all it is only 400 some euros, but considering that it is illegal to ask money ahead of time and that medical treatment should not involve extra expense it is pretty bad. Especially from someone who loves “the Hungarian People” so much.
As for his interesting turn of phrase that instead of performing surgical procedures he wants “to heal the Hungarian People,” I think I have the answer. He wants to be the real “doctor of the nation.” He wants to get involved in extreme right-wing politics. I do hope that he will be able to speak only in the name of very few people.