Slovakia is grappling with surging COVID cases, leaving doctors and nurses battling for the lives of those infected with the virus.
This week the nation recorded the highest rate of COVID-19-related deaths per million citizens in the world.
Galanta hospital, a city in the western part of the country, became a specialist COIVD hospital in January for patients within a 100 km radius.
Alexandra Pavlovičová, director of the hospital says almost all of the wards are assigned to treat people with the virus.
"We have approximately 650 workers, 100 of them are currently on sick leave because of COVID and 70% of them are dealing with COVID-patients," he explained.
Patients in a severe condition are admitted to the hospital's ICU unit, a new branch built with EU funds. Staff have to wear special protective clothing, with nurses and doctors in the attire for 12 to 24 hours at a time.
Patients in this unit all need ventilators and despite the hard work of the nurses and doctors, 60% of the patients admitted die in their beds. In the last weeks, the average age of the patients decreased.
The head of the ICU unit Dagmar Bodáková says every day is very difficult: "We do it until we have to. We hold on."
When her workload permits it, she plays the piano in the hospital for her colleagues.
Chief nurse Zuzana Obermanová says the doctors and nurses try to support each other. "We stick together and keep the faith in each other. If somebody is in a bad mood, we sit down to talk with him or her. We work as a team in this difficult situation"
This article has been updated to reflect the Slovak Republic is not considered to be a Balkan country and that the nation has the highest mortality rate in the world per million people.