Thousands of asthma sufferers are queuing for beds in one of the world's most unusual hospitals, 210 metres(690 feet) below ground in the salt mines of Wieliczka in Southern Poland.
GV EXTERIOR: Wieliczka with patients arriving wearing and carrying helmets. (3 shots)
LV AND CU INTERIOR: Patients enter and descent in lifts (3 shots)
GV INTERIOR: Patients lying in beds in the underground ward
CU: Rock formation in cave
LV: Nurse enters through hole in cave wall and looks at patients in beds
CU: Rock formation
SV AND LV PAN: Patients in beds (2 shots)
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Background: Thousands of asthma sufferers are queuing for beds in one of the world's most unusual hospitals, 210 metres(690 feet) below ground in the salt mines of Wieliczka in Southern Poland. The hospital, with wards in caverns hewn out of the salt deposits in the thousand-year old mine, had brought about a significant breakthrough in treating bronchial asthma and other respiratory diseases. The air in the mines is the medicine, as the hugh humidity, the low bacterial levels and the natural saline inhalation have brought about cures in many long suffering asthma patients.
SYNOPSIS: The hospital hasn't got that soothing atmosphere patients expect of more conventional clinics. Patients need strong stomachs and steely nerves as they plunge down the shaft at 20 kilometres (12 miles) and hour in swaying cages to the dark galleries underground. The patients go down alongside the mines in their grubby overalls and everybody wears a helmet and carries a gas mark.
The three main underground wards are on the fifth level of the nine-storey mine. The patients spend an average of twenty-four days in the hospital, sleeping below for up to eight hours a day and usually two full nights a week. The rest of the time is spent in wards above ground.
About eighty-five per cent of the hospital's patients have found that their respiratory conditions has improved in the mine's unique atmosphere and workers in the mine have never suffered from asthma.