Wednesday, 2 November 2022

How to Croatia - Navigating The World of Croatian Health Insurance

November the 2nd, 2022 - For foreigners and even those with Croatian citizenship who are moving here, the stress of navigating the sometimes needlessly complicated world of Croatian health insurance tends to come as a surprise...

Nobody wants to think of themselves becoming unwell, developing a hernia or breaking a bone, but it happens. You might eat one too many oysters and need to be in extremely close proximity to a very well functioning toilet, you could jump off a rugged Adriatic cliff and land in a less than ideal position in the sea below, or you might step on the notorious ‘jež’. The jež, or sea hedgehog, isn’t some sort of mythical Croatian monster from times gone by, it is a mere black sea urchin, there are loads of them and they do nothing but sit around all day, but they don’t half pack a punch (or stab, which is more accurate) if you accidentally step on one. 

Health insurance in Croatia is regulated by HZZO, or in English, the Croatian Health Insurance Fund. Much like the rest of Europe, Croatia has a universal healthcare system with private options available too. This doesn’t mean that healthcare is free in Croatia, it isn’t, we all need to do our bit and pay into it to ensure we can all be cared for should we need to be.

Health insurance in Croatia is compulsory, which means everyone resident on the territory of Croatia should have a regulated compulsory health insurance status. That isn’t saying that we all do, many of us don’t, and much like many other ‘mandatory’ things in Croatia… well… the use of the term is a little skewed. That said, you should have it, if for no other reason than for your own peace of mind. 

So, who technically needs to be insured in Croatia?

Long story short - Everyone. Short story long - There are more complications to this than there needs to be, and there are 59 different categories of insured persons!

Let’s start with the basics. In Croatia, there are three types of healthcare coverage. One is obvezno (mandatory), the others are dodatno and dopunsko, which act as additional coverage on top of your obvezno insurance. Think of it in levels; 1) Obvezno 2) Dopunsko 3) Dodatno.

Universal healthcare coverage is the norm all over Europe, with the British NHS being a not perfect but absolutely enviable tax-based model where nothing is paid at all at the point of use regardless of what needs to be done. Croatia’s socialised health insurance system is similar in the sense that it is based entirely on the principles of solidarity, meaning that all residents of Croatia, be they foreign or Croatian, are expected to contribute to the fund according to their respective abilities to pay for it. Everyone is paying for everyone else, and for the system to exist, and in turn they receive healthcare services according to their needs, from the prescribing of antibiotics for that pesky trachea infection that makes you sound like a chain smoker to open heart surgery that you need because you quite literally are a chain smoker.

You don’t need to pay if you’re under 18 years of age, you’re incapable of living an independent life, if you’re a disabled member of the Croatian Armed Forces, or if you’re the direct family member of a missing or dead member of the Croatian Armed Forces.

There are some other exceptions with more detailed explanations, but assuming you’re a foreign resident, you’re highly unlikely to be any of the above, so I’ll move on and offer a brief look at what the different types of Croatian health insurance mean and include.

Obvezno zdravstveno osiguranje is the most basic of the basic must-haves in Croatia. It’s the one everyone living in Croatia is meant to have from HZZO. You don’t need it if you’re an EEA citizen or permanent EEA resident who is covered by national health insurance in another EEA member state. This goes back to what I mentioned previously about not being allowed to be insured in two EEA member states at the same time.

Dopunsko zdravstveno osiguranje is a bit like a beefed up version of obvezno. It’s supplemental and totally optional, and you can take out a policy either as a public or private health insurance policy. You can get it from either HZZO or even from a bank or independent insurer. It eliminates most copayments for medication prescriptions, visits to the doctor, diagnostic workups, tests, and hospital stays should you need hospitalisation for any reason. If you’re someone who is, for example, diabetic, or suffers from some other sort of chronic condition such as hypertension which needs constant medication and frequent monitoring, this would be a good option. Copayments in Croatia are small, but why pay them if you can avoid it?

Dodatno zdravstveno osiguranje is the top of the range when it comes to Croatian health insurance. It covers absolutely everything and isn’t on offer from HZZO but from independent insurers and banks. This policy covers preventive care, visits (as many as you need) to all kinds of specialists, additional treatments, any laboratory test you can imagine, and extended hospital visits should you (God forbid) need that. You won’t need to pay anything out of pocket whatsoever if this is your policy of choice, and once again, it’s great if you’re someone who does suffer from some sort of chronic ailment that needs medicating and/or a watchful eye kept on it.

Now we’ve covered that, you might be wondering how you enrol into HZZO

First, you need to find the HZZO office for your area of residence, a full list can be obtained by accessing hzzo.hr and selecting ‘English’ in the top right corner. Alternatively, you can ask at MUP during your residence procedure.

Once there, you’ll need to explain that you’re a resident in Croatia and you’d like to enrol for obvezno health insurance.

If you’re a citizen or permanent resident of the EEA and as such you have an EHIC, you technically do not need to enrol in HZZO because you shouldn’t be publicly insured in two EEA member states at the same time. You absolutely can enrol in HZZO should you so wish, but you’ll need to provide proof that you’re no longer insured by the other EEA country in question. This is where things can get tricky.

When Britain was part of the EEA, many, many British residents of Croatia had endless issues trying to enrol into the Croatian healthcare system because the NHS is not health insurance but a right automatically afforded to people born and living in the UK, and because the document HZZO wants (proof of no longer being insured in the UK) seems to be as elusive as the abominable snowman. Many people have never heard of such a document and have absolutely no idea what is being sought. Now the UK is no longer an EEA member state, that awkward problem is hopefully a thing of the past.

It’s technically HZZO which needs to seek this document, not you. If they ask you for it, let them know that you're not the one who needs to be chasing it, they are.

If you manage to bypass this requirement, or you’re simply not asked, and you’re an EEA citizen or permanent resident, you can be enrolled into the Croatian health insurance system. Your first step is filling in the form to sign up which will be given to you or be made readily available at the office. 

A back payment, for a year in which you weren’t even in Croatia…

This might sound utterly preposterous, and to many people it does appear quite ridiculous, but there’s logic here, so hear me out. Some people (such as those who aren’t being signed up to HZZO) by their employers, need to pay ‘back pay’ to HZZO for the previous year. So this is 12 months of premiums, all in one go. But I wasn’t even here?! I hear you cry. I know, it seems like a complete con, but the reason behind it is this: what if you turned up, enrolled for free, got hit by a bus on your way home and then needed major surgery? What if you have a chronic health condition you failed to mention and started eating the system out of house and home as it were? Insulin, blood thinners, inhalers, statins, the works! That wouldn’t be fair on the people paying into the system, while you’ve paid nothing and yet you’re reaping the rewards of a socialised medical system.

Of course, one sincerely hopes that they will never be hit by a bus, struck by lightning, attacked by a shark, be knocked unconscious by a falling brick or anything else of the sort, but these are things we unfortunately cannot predict, and nor can HZZO. If you have a chronic health condition which will require the use of the system for prescription medication and therapies, you should also be paying your part into the system in order to be on a level playing field with everyone else paying their contributions.

I truly understand that it might seem like an absolute con and a half to be asked for a document that nobody seems to have ever heard of, such as ‘release from health insurance in another EEA country’, and then once you’ve fought that battle, be asked to pay for the health insurance you would have needed to pay for had you been here over the past 12 months, but you didn’t and couldn’t have, because you were not here… Yeah, I’ll give you that, it seems a bit like someone is taking the Michael, as they say in England, but hopefully the above explanation makes it seem a bit more rational.

I’ve been hired by a Croatian company, do I need to go and enrol at HZZO?

No. Your employer is obliged by law to do this for you using what’s known as a T-2 application form. You don’t have anything to do with this process.

Getting a health insurance card

As soon as you finish enrolling at the HZZO office, or as soon as your employer is finished enrolling you, you’re insured. You’ll be given paper confirmation of that fact by the clerk, and you can use this if you do need medical help as proof of you being insured by HZZO. You will get a proper plastic card attesting to that fact in the mail eventually, this can take weeks to months to arrive, so don’t panic if it doesn’t turn up for a while, you’re insured regardless and it will.

How do I find a GP?

Got a cough that just won’t go? Eaten one too many seafood platters and become best mates with the toilet? Found a weird rash you can’t leave alone? Your GP needs to be your first port of call unless it is an emergency, in which case, well, the emergency room needs to be your first port of call. 

From ear infections to ingrown toenails and everything in between, GPs, or as they’re called in Croatia ‘family doctors’ (doktor opće medicine/obiteljski liječnik) are the ones who will prescribe the antibiotics, sprays, prescription ointments and so on. 

Most people have a GP, a paediatrician for their kids if they have them, a gynaecologist if you’re a woman, and of course, the one who tells you off for eating too many sweets - a dentist. 

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves with all of the different doctors. Here’s how to find and get registered as a new patient with a GP

HZZO’s website (hzzo.hr) has a list of GPs. You’ll need to go through the list of those in your area and call them to ask them if they’re taking on new patients. Alternatively, you can use word of mouth, which is worth its weight in gold in Croatia for just about everything. GPs can’t turn you down if they are taking on patients, which is good news. But be aware, they might not pick up the phone when you call, and the GPs with a great reputation among the local bakas (grandmothers) will likely not be able to take you on.

Once you find a GP and are accepted as a new patient, you’ll fill in a form which you’ll get from the doctor’s office, and then you’ll need to give it to the doctor. They then fill in their part, and send it off to HZZO. That’s it, you’re done.

Your GP will be the one you visit first with your health complaints which aren’t medical emergencies. They are qualified to run certain tests, and also to make a decision as to whether you need to be referred for more tests, scans, and/or to a specialist at a polyclinic or a hospital. If you do need to see a specialist for further diagnostics and tests, you’ll be given what’s called an uputnica (a referral). This used to be a slip of paper and it’s now digital (yes, Croatia is actually catching up, believe it or not), and is called an e-Uputnica.

How do I find an English speaking doctor?

English is very widely spoken in Croatia, and most educated people speak it excellently. Most doctors speak some degree of English, some with complete fluency. In smaller areas, especially down on the coast or in the Dalmatian hinterland, you might come across doctors who speak very little to no English, however. The British Government’s website (GOV.UK) and its Croatia page has a handy tool you can use to find the names of English speaking doctors, as does the US Embassy’s website.

In case of emergency

As stated, if you’re experiencing a medical emergency, go straight to the nearest hospital with your health insurance card or the piece of paper HZZO gave to you after you enrolled, don’t wait on your GP. If you’re a mere tourist with no intention of becoming a resident, take your passport and your EHIC. This is now a GHIC if you’re British.

Things to be aware of

Everyone resident in Croatia is supposed to have a GP. Does everyone have one? No. Can everyone get hold of theirs on the phone or via email if they do? Also no. 

Obvezno (mandatory health insurance) does not cover birth control, cosmetic surgery, abortion, or the expenses of medical treatment sought because of some sort of religious conviction or personal preference that isn’t deemed medically necessary.

Unless you have dodatno health insurance (or dopunsko, in a wide array of cases), you may need to pay a small copayment for certain medications, procedures or hospital stays. This is usually a symbolic sum.

Contraception and abortion in Croatia

Contraceptives

Condoms are available in all kinds of stores, from Lidl to newsagents, and even in Tisak kiosks. There are various brands on offer just like all over the world.

I mentioned above that contraceptives aren’t covered by obvezno health insurance in Croatia. Some brands of contraceptive pills, however, are covered if you have taken out a dopunsko policy, but generally you need to pay out of pocket for them and you’ll also need a gynaecologist to give you the green light (and a prescription) following a pelvic examination and a few general health questions to check all is well. The gynaecologist can be a state healthcare provider or a private one, it doesn’t matter at all.

When it comes to intrauterine devices (IUD), you also need to pay. You can get certain types at certain pharmacies and gynaecology practices. Following the purchase, a gynaecologist needs to perform the procedure and insert the IUD into your uterus following the ‘green light examination’ I mentioned above. They may want to examine you again and ask some questions before beginning the procedure to double check.

Plan B and C

Levonorgestrel, more commonly referred to as the morning after pill (Plan B) is available to purchase at all pharmacies (a pharmacy is called a ljekarna in Croatian). Health insurance doesn’t come into this. You can just go and purchase it. It prevents pregnancy in an impressive 95% of cases if taken within 24 hours, and you don’t need to speak to a doctor, nor do you need a prescription.

Mifepristone is a drug often used in combination with another drug called misoprostol to induce a medical abortion and manage early miscarriage. This is known as Plan C, you need a prescription and it can be used until the 10th week of pregnancy in Croatia. Once the prescription is taken to a pharmacy, they aim to have it within one to two days, after which you must take it for a period of four days. After that, you’ll need to go back to the gynaecologist who will perform another pelvic examination to make sure the termination is complete.

Abortion

This is still a touchy subject in Croatia, but abortion is legal and has been for a very long time. If you’re determined to have an abortion and you’ve passed the 10 weeks of pregnancy mark, you need to be absolutely certain of your decision, and while you don’t need any counselling like you do in certain other countries, even the more liberal ones, you do need to convince your doctor you’re 100% sure, as well. 

Once you’ve made your intentions clear, you’ll be spoken to about something called the Commission of First Instance, consisting of a gynaecologist, another doctor, and a social worker or registered nurse. The commission then either chooses to approve the abortion if it is medically necessary to save the woman's life or preserve her state of health, whether that threat to her health is present during the pregnancy, or during the delivery itself.

What does that mean?

An abortion after 10 weeks will likely be approved if what will become a baby is likely to, or will definitely be born with a congenital defect or if the unwanted pregnancy is the result of a crime such as incest or rape. The Commission's decision may be appealed to a Commission of Second Instance, whose decision is final. This sounds daunting, but it doesn’t even come into it in situations where the woman's life or health is in immediate danger or the abortion procedure has already begun. 

Once you’ve been given the green light, you’ll be referred for the procedure, which typically lasts around 40 minutes as long as there are no complications or bumps in the road, and is typically carried out at a hospital. The facility set to carry out the abortion must have a obstetrics and gynaecology department.

Abortions aren’t free, and they are typically not covered by HZZO. You’ll need to fork out a few thousand kuna for the gynaecological exam, blood tests, and the procedure itself.

Things to note

Certain types of IUD are free of charge and covered by HZZO entirely if the woman in question suffers from anaemia as a result of blood loss during abnormally heavy periods.

There are numerous types of contraceptive pills available in Croatia, ask the gynaecologist which one is right for you based on your own medical history, possible medical issues, and potential hormonal issues. If you have had issues with a particular brand in the past, make sure to mention it.

Some pharmacies can refuse to sell Plan B (the morning after pill) on religious grounds. It sounds absolutely beyond comprehension, but it can and does unfortunately happen. If this happens to you, go to another pharmacy.

There is something called ‘conscientious objection’ in Croatia, and much like the above case with Plan B and some pharmacists, some doctors use it to refuse to agree to refer a patient for an abortion, or to carry out the procedure. If this does happen to you, don’t waste your time pleading your case, save yourself the energy and seek out another doctor.

The tide appears to be turning when it comes to the issue of abortion in Croatia. Back in the pandemic-dominated year of 2020, the Ipsos Puls agency conducted a poll in which 81% of respondents agreed with the statement that a woman should have a right to choose regarding pregnancies, giving birth or abortions, of which 68% completely agreed and 13% mostly agreed.

On a much lighter note, you can get free tests for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) through HZZO.

If you’re prescribed some medication, you’ll pay a very small copayment when picking it up from the pharmacy. The amount is symbolic.

Additional information in more specific cases, such as cross-border healthcare, can be accessed by visiting HZZO’s National Contact Point page, or emailing them at [email protected]

Alright, I’ve found a doctor, how do I go about finding a dentist?

Dentists are those kinds of people you just don’t even think about until you can’t stop thinking about them, either because your tooth has suspiciously just started hurting or because you’ve parted with your hard earned cash, all for a tiny filling you won’t even be able to see and what feels like a smack in the face.

They don’t evoke pleasant thoughts, nor do their whirring tools, but they’re very necessary. 

If you’re a tourist in Croatia, you just quite literally need to find one, see if they have an appointment free for you, pay out of pocket for what you need to be done and then be on your merry way, hopefully never to return again. In all honesty, the same can be done as a resident who has Croatian health insurance. If you’re willing to pay out of pocket, you can’t be bothered to go flicking through the dentists which have contracts with HZZO and you need help right now, you’re free to do as you like and go to whoever will treat you. 

Dental care in Croatia is typically of a very high standard, and the prices are very favourable compared to what many people are used to paying elsewhere. This has become such a trend that Croatian dental (and health in general) tourism has been blossoming, with some polyclinics having earned stellar reputations among locals and foreigners alike, be they coming for necessary work or cosmetic procedures.

Finding a dentist who has a contract with HZZO

If you want to find a dentist who has a contract with HZZO and it isn’t cosmetic work you’re after, you’ll be able to be treated for free, although you might need to pay a very small contribution in participation costs.

Cosmetic dentistry

Croatia is making quite the name for itself in this regard, and there are, as I mentioned a little while ago, numerous polyclinics springing up offering excellent services for very favourable prices. Dentists in Croatia study at the School of Dental Medicine in Croatia, which is the only one of its kind in the country, and the care they provide is of high quality. Foreigners from all over the world come to Croatia to get their dental work done, enjoying stays in hotels, sightseeing and the gastronomic scene (as long as they can eat, of course!) all while completing their treatments. 

Croatian dentistry has an absolutely brilliant reputation internationally, and with very good reason.

 

For more on navigating the practicalities of life in Croatia, make sure to keep up with our How to Croatia articles each week by following our lifestyle section.

Monday, 25 July 2022

First Liver, Pancreas, Small Intestine Transplant Performed in Croatia

ZAGREB, 25 July 2022 - Health Minister Vili Beroš on Monday congratulated a team at Zagreb's Merkur hospital on the first multiple liver, pancreas and small intestine transplant in Croatia, saying this puts them near the top in world transplant surgery.

This further strengthens Croatia's status as the most successful Eurotransplant member state and one of the world's leaders in organ donation and transplantation, Beroš said, according to a statement from the ministry.

The Merkur team's significant success is an additional incentive for reforms that will further strengthen the health system, and each success reflects the strength and potential of our health system, he added.

Beroš said the government and the Health Ministry were committed to amending the law and further advancing healthcare as well as to an open dialogue with everyone wishing to strengthen the status of medical workers, with patients at the centre of the health system.

Merkur transplant surgeon Stipislav Jadrijević said the procedure, performed on Saturday on a patient with terminal liver disease, was not just something new in Croatia but a rarity in other EU countries as well, notably in adults. "Such operations are performed only two to three times a year in the most state-of-the-art centres in the EU," he added.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Sunday, 12 June 2022

Hospital Directors Welcome Proposed Model of Payments to Hospitals

ZAGREB, 12 June 2022 - The measures proposed by Health Minister Vili Beroš to reform the health system have been welcomed by the heads of two Zagreb hospitals, who say that introducing a model of payment to hospitals based on efficiency would be a major change in the operation of hospitals, burdened by debts.

The announced reform measures, such as the establishment of excellence centres, hospital accreditation and payments based on efficiency would change the operation of hospitals which are given billions of kuna from the budget every year to settle their debts, the head of Zagreb's Sisters of Charity Hospital, Davor Vagić, said at a panel on the hospital system, held as part of the MedMed 2022 conference in Grožnjan on Saturday and organised by reporters covering the health system and health-related topics.

Croatia has 62 hospitals, including hospital centres, clinical and general hospitals and special and private hospitals.

Medical workers attending the panel were agreed that the number of hospitals should not be reduced but that they should be repurposed and accredited and excellence centres established, noting that changes should be made to the model of payment to hospitals.

Hospitals operate with a programmed loss and despite budget rescue aid in the amount of HRK 6.3 billion in 2021 and HRK 3.5 billion in 2022, their due debt currently amounts to HRK 2.5 billion, warned Dražen Jurković, director of the Association of Health Sector Employers.

Hospital directors attending the panel expressed support to the proposed changes to the model of payment to hospitals, their computerisation and monitoring treatment outcomes.

Vagić said that if the reform was launched by the end of the year, its results would be visible only after three years and that the situation could be better in five years' time.

The head of Zagreb's KB Dubrava hospital, Ivica Lukšić, said that each new health administration annulled decisions taken by the previous one, which was the reason why the reform, called for by almost every government, had never been implemented.

Lukšić said that with the existing limits, hospitals could not operate in the black, which was why better organisation and a single system of procurement were necessary.

A representative of the association of family doctors, Vikica Krolo, welcomed the proposed reform measures related to primary health care, such as the merging of community medical centres, which in the future should also offer specialist examinations.

Vagić noted that specialists working in hospitals would have to be motivated to work in community medical centres and that they could not be assigned to work there by decree.

He said that he would always advocate the right to work in the private sector for hospital doctors who regularly meet their obligations in the public sector but that he agreed with the minister's position that order should be made in that regard.

Commenting on announced changes restricting the work of public sector doctors in the private sector, Croatian Medical Chamber head Krešimir Luetić said that the chamber considered as satisfactory the existing rules, under which a public hospital doctor wishing to take on a second job in the private sector has to regularly and professionally perform their duties under their employment contract, continue their own professional development, respect work organisation and does not have a criminal, misdemeanor or disciplinary decision issued against them.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Friday, 18 February 2022

Maternity Hospitals in Croatia Rank Low in Latest Research

February 18, 2022 - A recent research seeking to determine the quality of the childbirth experience during the pandemic in several European countries has exposed maternity hospitals in Croatia, and for all the wrong reasons.

The prestigious journal The Lancet Regional Health Europe published this month a scientific paper entitled Quality of health care for mothers and newborns in maternity hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic: an online survey of mothers' perspectives in 12 WHO countries.

The fact that the research was featured on the cover of this scientific journal speaks of its importance on the experience of health care for pregnant women, mothers, and midwives during the pandemic, as well as the quality of investigation and conclusions.

The study included a total of 21,027 women who gave birth in the first year of the pandemic, from March 1, 2020 to March 15, 2021 in twelve countries of the WHO European Region.

The online questionnaire is based on the WHO Standards for Quality of Maternal and Neonatal Care (QMNC) and is organized in four areas: Care Provision, Care Experience, Availability of Staff and Human Resources, and the Impact of COVID- 19 on the provision of care. Based on the results in each area, an overall ranking of responses for that area (0-100) and an overall score (0-400) was formed.

The results indicate huge differences in the quality of care for women and newborns. Unfortunately, Croatia is in the penultimate place on the list of 12 countries. At the top of the scale are Luxembourg (355), Spain (345) and Germany (335) and at the bottom are Romania (275), Croatia (270) and Serbia (205).

Maternity hospitals in Croatia were rated best in the areas of care (80 out of a possible 100) and in the assessment of changes related to COVID (70 out of a possible 100), while the experience in care (65 out of a possible 100) and the availability of staff and human resources were rated worse (55 out of 100), reports Novi list.

In collaboration with the leaders of the scientific project Imagine EURO, Trieste Burlo Garofolo Institute, the project was worked on in Croatia by the head of the Reproductive Rights Program at the Roda Association, Daniela Drandić, M.Sc.

"This research once again pointed out all the problems in health care for pregnant women, mothers, and midwives, which Roda has been warning the competent institutions and the public about since the beginning of the pandemic. The only question is whether the competent institutions will direct their efforts towards solving these problems", warned the Roda Association.

"Once again, we have seen that, despite the constant talk about demography, when it comes to changes in the health care system, women and children are simply not a priority.", they added.

Several more scientific studies will be published as part of this research project, including work measuring the experiences of health professionals in the pandemic. "Over 3,000 health professionals from Europe have already participated in the research on the experiences of health professionals in maternity hospitals during the pandemic, and we call on those from maternity hospitals in Croatia to do the same; the survey questionnaire is open to all health professionals working in maternity hospitals.

In addition, we continue to invite women who gave birth in the hospital during the pandemic to participate in the research that is still ongoing; namely, we want to investigate the experiences of women throughout the pandemic''.

Source: Slobodna Dalmacija

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 15 February 2022

Worth 60 Million Kuna, New Swimming Pools in Rovinj to Open in September

February 15th, 2022 - With several new developments under construction, the Rovinj hospital has an unprecedented opportunity to position itself as a market leader in thalassotherapy

Rovinj, the champion of tourism in Istria, is about to get a new public swimming pool complex. As reported by Jutarnjil list, it’s Rovinj’s biggest investment in 2022, worth 60 million kuna and currently under construction on the premises of the Special Hospital for Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation ‘Martin Horvat’. The building will be entirely made of stainless steel, the only one of its kind in Croatia, according to Branko Rajko, the director of the public company Valbruna Sport from Rovinj.

The pool complex is being built on the foundations of an older one which was demolished. The new facility will have two pools, one for athletes and recreationists, and a smaller one intended for patients of the Rovinj hospital.

The large investment is financed by Valbruna Sport, a company that’s 100% owned by the City of Rovinj, with a loan guaranteed by the City.

‘The main works on the pool will be finished by June. Fixtures are being installed at the moment, and some thirty employees are on the construction site every day. The opening is planned for September. This is our biggest investment in sports infrastructure, and together with the municipal port and the drainage system, it’s the largest infrastructure project in Rovinj in terms of funding’, says Rajko, who is looking forward to the opening of the new public swimming pool, as are his fellow citizens.

Measuring 25 by 33 metres, the larger pool will be filled with fresh water and will have a movable bottom in the width of 7.5 x 25 metres, i.e. three swimming lanes with the possibility of regulating the depth from 0 to -2 meters. It will be open to the public as well.

‘About 300 athletes will train at the new pool, and I believe a lot of citizens will come too in their free time, and not only those from Rovinj. The price of entry will be 30 kuna, and there will be affordable monthly tickets. I believe that the people of Poreč, Pazin and the wider area will visit the pool’, said Rajko.

Except for offering perfect conditions for training and recreation, the pool will surely be enjoyed for its spectacular view of the sea. According to Rajko, that was also a feature of the previous pool that existed in the same location, but the glass walls of the new one will provide a better view of the sea and the beach below the hospital.

‘The pool will host competitions at the local and regional levels. Not the higher levels, unfortunately, as we don't have big enough stands. The pool can only accommodate up to 300 spectators. We had to accommodate certain conditions of conservation because this hospital complex is under conservation protection, so we could not expand further’, explained Rajko. He said construction was challenging; as the pool is located on the shore, the sea flooded the underground rooms while foundations were being dug. It was a pool within a pool, he said with a laugh.

A smaller rehabilitation pool measuring 12.60 by 6 metres will be reserved for hospital patients and will have a separate entrance. The rehabilitation pool will be filled with sea water; halls are being built for physical therapy, hydrotherapy and electrotherapy. Exercise will be taking place outdoors as well, in the Mediterranean garden on the premises between the pool and the hospital.

Developers are also building a new department of physical therapy and hydrotherapy, which will provide a wide range of therapies covered by the Croatian Health Insurance Fund (HZZO). Overall, the Rovinj hospital is getting an unprecedented opportunity to position itself as a market leader in thalassotherapy, which employs the beneficial effects of the sea in medical treatment and rehabilitation.

A historical promenade is also being restored, one that starts in the park of the Rovinj hospital and winds around the picturesque Muccia peninsula. The promenade has seen better days, but is still attractive nonetheless. It spans along the coastline and offers wonderful views of Rovinj on the other side of the bay. Only a third of the trail will be restored in the first phase, with the renovation works valued at 1.1 million kuna.

‘The trail will be widened and paved, and we’ll have trash cans, benches and information panels installed. When new tenders are announced, we’ll apply immediately because our goal is to renovate the entire promenade. It’s especially important to us to ensure that hospital patients with reduced mobility, as well as wheelchair users, can take strolls on the promenade. At the moment, the bumpy trail makes it quite difficult for them’, said hospital director Silvia Buttignoni. The promenade will be completed in five months.

The entire compound of the Special Hospital ‘Martin Horvat’ is protected by the Ministry of Culture as immovable cultural property, and the Muccia peninsula is part of a significant landscape that includes all inhabited and uninhabited islands around Rovinj.

The latest investments will further improve the quality of service in the hospital, which also provides medical tourism services.

Saturday, 16 October 2021

Hospitals Need Strong Wall of Anti-epidemic Measures, Says Minister

ZAGREB, 16 Oct, 2021 - Commenting on the coronavirus entering the hospital system and claiming the life of a patient in Rijeka, Health Minister Vili Beroš on Saturday warned again about the importance of strong epidemiological rules in the health system, notably hospitals.

"The case of the patient at the KBC Rijeka hospital shows that there is no 100% safety, that the virus cannot be prevented at all times, and that it cannot be detected at a certain stage of the incubation period," the minister said, stressing that the most important thing was that KBC Rijeka staff had acted appropriately and that epidemiologists had prevented the further spreading of the virus.

Beroš noted that other patients were stable and that "there is no danger of the virus further spreading."

According to media reports, a 76-year-old man, admitted to KBC Rijeka for treatment of the carotid arteries, was negative for coronavirus upon admission, having been vaccinated with two doses, however, five days later he was diagnosed with COVID-19 and died.

Beroš once again called on citizens to get vaccinated, noting that of the 15 latest fatalities, 12 had not been vaccinated.

For more on COVID-19, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Croatian Covid Certificates Needed for Patients and Hospital Staff From Monday

September the 29th, 2021 - Croatian covid certificates will be needed for both patients and hospital staff, regardless of their employment status within hospitals, in order to enter Croatian hospitals as of Monday.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Croatian covid certificates or mandatory testing for those who haven't been vaccinated will be introduced as of this Monday.

One decision refers to the introduction of mandatory testing of all employees of healthcare institutions, companies performing healthcare activities and healthcare workers, the second refers to the mandatory testing of all employees in social care, and the third to patients, ie the introduction of special safety measures which healthcare institutions, companies that perform healthcare activities and private healthcare professionals are obliged to perform when receiving patients.

Employees without Croatian covid certificates must be tested twice a week. Those who refuse to be tested will not be allowed to go to work Healthcare and social workers who have not been vaccinated or have not recovered from the virus will need to be tested twice a week.

Employees who refuse testing or refuse to present Croatian covid certificate cannot remain on their employer's premises, it is stated in the Decision.

Rules for patients in hospitals

Patients coming to hospital for a planned hospitalisation or planned procedure, childbirth, parents or guardians staying with children and persons coming to accompany patients and visit hospitalised persons will be required to provide a Croatian covid certificate or other appropriate evidence of their vaccination status, proof of their recovery or their recently obtained negative test result. Everything will be checked by authorised persons of the healthcare provider themselves.

Children under the age of 12 who are accompanied by patients because they have no one to stay at home with or are visiting hospitalised parents or siblings don't need to have a certificate or other evidence of vaccination, recovery or a negative test result.

Those needing emergency treatment are also exempt.

For all you need to know about coronavirus in Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated section and select your preferred language. 

Saturday, 25 September 2021

Vili Beros to Healthcare Workers: If You Don't Want Vaccine or Test, You Can't Come to Work

September the 25th, 2021 - Croatian Health Minister Vili Beros has issued a clear message to those not wanting to get vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and those who don't want to frequently test for it to ensure they're negative.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, Vili Beros has stated that safety has no price, and that although costs can always be discussed, safety and security will always come before anything else.

''The process around covid certification is aimed at increasing safety, and safety like that has no price. We can talk about costs, but we will insist on safety above all. We're planning to carry out testing twice a week. We don’t know what to do with those people who choose to refuse a test and also refuse vaccination. In order not to discriminate against anyone, we've introduced the possibility of testing.

It will be free at first, but it can't be like that forever. If someone doesn't want to be tested for the virus, then they will have to enter it in the records of their working hours and will not be able to attend work and will create a problem for the system and for themselves. I can't talk about further actions at this moment in time, but everything will be done in accordance with the law,'' Vili Beros pointed out.

"No responsible person should resort to forgery. As far as I know, there have been no forgeries within the Croatian healthcare system,'' added the Health Minister.

Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic emphasised that covid certificates cannot be forged due to their specificities. Vili Beros repeated the fact that althoug he wants to avoid discrimination, he didn't know how long the testing procedure would be free for healthcare workers who don't want to be vaccinated against the virus.

"The funds for it been secured, but I can't say what the amount is. It's known that there is sick leave control, you have to have a justification for being off work if you're too unwell, and not wanting to be tested is not yet included in the classification of those diseases,'' he warned.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, including the locations of testing centres and vaccination points, as well as travel rules, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and choose your preferred language.

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Dijana Zadravec Presents Her Evidence of Corruption in a Zagreb Hospital

ZAGREB, 15 June, 2021 - The National Anti-Corruption Council on Tuesday interviewed the dismissed head of the radiology ward of Zagreb's Sisters of Charity Hospital, Dijana Zadravec, who presented her evidence of criminal activities used to siphon money from the hospital.

Zadravec, who has been on sick leave since May, told members of that parliamentary body that she learned yesterday from the media that acting hospital director Zoran Vatavuk had given her a warning before dismissal for harming the hospital's reputation, noting that the hospital's reputation was harmed by corruption and those who committed and covered it up.

Zadravec said that her fight against corruption started in 2016, when her persecution and harassment started as well.

She said that as the deputy hospital head she reported in 2016 the charging of fictitious overtime work which the then director Mario Zovak had covered up, adding that she had reported this to the prosecutorial authorities and the Health Ministry.

Zadravec said that in late 2020 she discovered a criminal network at the hospital, with public money being siphoned by doctors, which was why she reported them for abuse of office.

The doctor, who claims to have extensive documentation proving her allegations, says that offers to suppliers with whom the hospital did business without public tenders, since the last public tender was conducted in 2019, were signed by doctors Vladimir Kalousek and Branimir Čule, and that the offers exceeded HRK 30 million.

She also cited cases when less material was used for operations than the quantity ordered from suppliers.

Commenting on Zadravec's allegations, the State Secretary and chair of the Sisters of Charity Hospital Steering Board, Tomislav Dulibić, said that hospital documentation was being checked by inspectors from the health and finance ministries and the HZZO health insurance agency.

"According to preliminary information, no significant departures have been found, except for some minor irregularities. Eleven inspectors are working on this, invite them to testify," Dulibić told the Anti-Corruption Council.

He said that the decision to carry out the inspection at the hospital was made a couple of weeks ago, noting that the relevant proceedings were underway.

The chair of the Anti-Corruption Council, Nikola Grmoja, asked if anyone had responded to Zadravec's claims, to which Zadravec said that after she reported the false charging of overtime work, Health Ministry inspectors were called in and concluded that the matter should be investigated by the hospital director.

Allegations should be investigated as soon as possible 

After conducting the interviews today, the Anti-Corruption Council adopted a conclusion asking the ministries of health, finances and economy as well as the prosecutorial authorities and the USKOK anti-corruption office to determine facts related to the case as soon as possible.

Zadravec was told to submit copies of the reports she had sent to the competent authorities as well as the text message in which, she claims, Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković lobbied for Zovak's reappointment as the hospital head.

The Anti-Corruption Council will send the audio recording of today's hearing to the prosecutorial authorities, and it will ask the Health Ministry to submit all documents on inspections conducted at the hospital since 2016 or explain why no inspections were conducted.

The Council will also ask the government to secure additional conditions for the employment of financial investigators at courts in four big cities.

For more about politics in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Feasibility Study For Hospital Project in Osijek to be Prepared

ZAGREB, 11 May, 2021 - The 35 million kuna contract on the elaboration of a feasibility study for the construction of a new complex housing the hospital centre in Osijek was signed on Tuesday in that biggest eastern Croatian city.

The document on preparing the feasibility study was signed by Health Minister Vili Beroš, the Osijek Hospital Centre head, Željko Zubčić and the representative of the consortium of bidders. As many as 30 million kuna will be provided from European funds, whereas the health ministry will cover the remaining 5.2 million.

Regional Development and EU Funds minister, Nataša Tramišak, said at the contract-signing ceremony that the co-funding from the EU funds was ensured through the "Slavonia, Baranja and Srijem" project.

She said that the construction of the future hospital centre was estimated at two billion kuna, and the exact sum would be known after the Osijek hospital centre provided full information.

Zubčić said that the new hospital centre "is a greenfield investment", and would be built at a new location. He said that the new hospital complex "is a necessity for Osijek and Croatia's east.

The elaboration of the feasibility study is expected to take a year.

(€1 = HRK 7.5)

For more about health in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

 

 

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