Friday, 6 May 2022

Dubrava Hospital Doctors Perform Surgery Never Done Before in Croatia

May the 6th, 2022 - Dubrava Hospital doctors have performed a form of surgery that has never been done before in the Republic of Croatia, highlighting (once again) the incredible medics this country can boast of, and just how much they deal with and succeed in even within the constraints of a severely strained and underfunded healthcare system.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, for the first time ever in Croatia, an operation was performed by Dubrava Hospital doctors in order to reconstruct both feet. A team from Dubrava Hospital enabled a migrant from Gambia to take a new step (quite literally) in life after his toes were amputated due to suffering from severe frostbite, RTL writes.

After four surgeries and two months spent recovering and being treated in the hospital, Eddie Manga is now recovering exceptionally well. He has also learned a few words of Croatian, and now everyone is waiting for him to take his very first steps.

Manga is a nineteen-year-old Gambian who has has his life torn apart since his foot amputation. He set off for Europe with three Afghans, and together they reached neighbouring Serbia.

"They just left me. I was alone in the "jungle", I kept on walking without any food and water. I have had these frozen feet ever since. I walked and walked and walked. On the way I heard cars, I heard traffic. I was close to the road, but I didn't know where I was,'' said Eddie Manga, the Dubrava Hospital patient who will now be able to get his life well and truly back on track thanks to the team of doctors who gave him their all.

Someone eventually caught sight of the young man, wandering around hungry, thirsty, exhausted and somewhat dazed, called the police and then the ambulance arrived. He ended up in the hospital with severe frostbite, which is now thankfully a period of his life he can put firmly in the past.

For more, check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Sunday, 27 March 2022

Zagreb Rebro Hospital to Undergo 70 Million Euro Renovation

March the 27th, 2022 - The well known Zagreb Rebro hospital is finally set to ''go under the knife'' itself in the form of a 70 million euro renovation which will see the addition of a brand new multifunctional building.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, at the tail end of last week, the (newly crowned) Minister of Physical Planning, Construction and State Property, Ivan Paladina, and the director of the Zagreb Clinical Hospital (Rebro) Ante Corusic signed an agreement on a project for the renovation and reconstruction of the Zagreb Rebro hospital called "Phase III", which is worth the aforementioned figure of 70 million euros.

The new multifunctional building of the Zagreb Rebro hospital will be constructed within the existing location, and all of the funds intended for the construction and renovation have been secured from a World Bank loan. The new part of the hospital will span a massive 27,800 square metres in total and will have eight floors, as well as a garage with five floors and an emergency heliport will be built and opened.

Minister Ivan Paladina pointed out that this project is an example of quality and concrete cooperation between the Zagreb Rebro hospital, the competent ministries and the profession.

“When we have a clear common goal and when everyone involved in the project gives their maximum contribution, then things work properly. This is a positive example that we want to apply to all other reconstruction procedures that we need to tackle after the earthquake, in which the state and the profession will participate even more actively, as will the public,'' said Paladina.

Hospital director Ante Corusic also noted that Phase III is part of the strategic document for the development of the Zagreb Rebro hospital, which is about ten years old now, and the project was additionally prolonged by the devastating earthquake of March 2020. That said, now that handsome World Bank loans totalling 81.8 million US dollars have been obtained, and additional funds through the NPOO totalling 25 million euros have also been secured, things can finally get moving in the right direction.

For more, check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Thursday, 30 December 2021

In Praise of Croatian Public Health: My Triple Bypass Success Story

December the 30th, 2021 - The Croatian public health system is faced with a lot of criticism, much of it is unfounded, here's my story.

Last spring was promising me yet another wonderful, very long, carefree and rejuvenating time down by the sea. Retirement is a blessing. It offers freedom of movement (plus freedom of speech if you enjoy it properly) and, especially, total command over one’s time. That's the bright side of it.

Time is man’s only true possession - everything else is precarious, ephemeral, temporary or illusional, much like our own bodies and physical states, for example. They're precarious, ephemeral, temporary, limited, and certainly not a supporting companion to our soul. I think that babies start crying seconds after their birth not because they are terrified by the new environment, but because they experience physical pain. Pain is man’s first experience of the world. Our body is not our friend, and it is less and less so as time goes by.

Health of course is tied to what one does on a daily basis to try to preserve it. Some attempts are futile, most aren't. Some people understand that early on, most don't.

I'm proud to say that my life allowed me to sin for a major part. A lot. Heaps more than most people I guess. I have seen more dawns than twilights, so to speak. Because life in general was generous to me (well, even during the war it was rewarding in many ways when I think of it), serenity prevailed by far over all of my days. When you're young, you are supposed to be all kinds of things when you grow up and you can of course do anything, including becoming an ''adult'' while still underage, because you need to keep up with the boys from your quarter, all of whom are your seniors by quite some years.

You cannot afford to be called a sissy if you didn't smoke, which you would be. At least back then. So I started smoking when I had barely reached the ''ripe old age'' of 16, when of course I knew everything there was to know about life, as did you, I'm sure. Later on, in the long years of studying and then freelancing around the world, partying and booze came into the picture, too, inevitably. Not that I'd get wasted every night, of course, but, well, there was lots of partying and many dawns, and many an estranged taxi taking me to where my bed was while missing my sunglasses and a bottle of water most desperately.

I remember discovering ''The Memories of Hadrian'' somewhere in my early twenties and re-reading that book several times over. Among quite a few memorable points, despite myself being young and utterly healthy, my mind recorded that moment when Hadrian started to become tired of his body which was becoming a nuisance, a traitor, limiting and disabling him. Almost one half of a century later, Hadrian has come to my mind so many, many a time. What a piece of work is man, Master Shakespeare wondered. Indeed.

When you think how you hated your granny (and your mother, and aunt and practically every adult around) who scorned you for not wearing a sweater, not having your shirt tucked in properly, sitting on cold concrete that would certainly make your kidneys ''go bad'', for going out (on a date possibly) with your hair still wet from the shower as a safe way of getting meningitis and inflamed sinuses, not to talk about lessons on how bad smoking is for you and how alcohol damages your liver… But who would listen? All of those irritating pontifications might have been true, but they had nothing to do with you whatsoever in your mind.

And then, how many times have you heard that somebody died of ''a sudden heart attack''? Sudden!?  It took almost all my life so far for me to learn that there is no such thing as a sudden heart attack. Such events, rare as they are, are freak ones. Every stroke or heart attack has its silent and deadly history built up in the years, it has its progress and, especially its cause(s) that live with you for a long time before that. You pay no attention, and then you're suddenly being transported to an emergency ward. Genetics play a role of course, but the cause is - you. Or, in my case - me. Also because my granny got on my nerves so much. 

The experience I had was more that terrible, and I want to share some of it.

I was in London some eight years ago when the very first rays of warning shone up inside my brain. One day I was walking from an underground station to the house of my friends where I stayed. It was an everyday routine, nothing special, and quite a short distance too. I might have been less than 100 metres from the house when I felt my right calf suddenly become stiff, further steps were oddly difficult, I started limping and hardly made it to the gate. The remaining several days were highly marked by that. I had pains when walking, I could not walk for long, either. It was sudden. It was frightening. That is when I was reminded of the not-so-good genetics pertaining to arteries in my family. There I was. It has caught up with me despite my lack of attention. I should have listened.

Back in Zagreb I hardly made it upstairs, dragging a suitcase along with me to my apartment at the same time. All alarms then began ringing inside me. This was no pulled muscle, and no self-resolving, passing ailment. One or two calls to my friends sent me to a hospital right away. There was a clog in my artery that had stopped the flow of blood to my leg almost completely and the operation, performed under local anaesthesia, was carried out by a young doctor who I made laugh heartily while he dealt with the clog.

When you must not move an eyelash for almost two hours, it feels much longer than it is.  I was alone in a spacious room, I had a TV, my own internet and actually had a good time within the circumstances, however ''disturbed'' by frequent check-ups and controls by medics. The care was total and complete and made me feel safe and comfortable. It was proof that the Croatian public health system, while underfunded, was beyond excellent.

This happened somewhere exactly around Easter Day and I was glad I could avoid traditional lunches and coloured eggs. That’s for kids, I find. Five days later I was back in the normal world with a clean artery and feeling quite good, quite normal again. I avoided driving and public transportation and walked everywhere I could. That is how you control cardiovascular diseases which only require conservative treatment. I soon forgot about that.

Pain gone and experience fading, I soon regained my old lifestyle. A thousand parties and no work, as Gertrude Stein defined the Thirties in Paris. Well, almost. Freelancing allows for that, as anyone who has dabbled in that knows well.

As a heavily addicted smoker, I wasn't aware of what I was silently but lethally doing to myself. Friends and family would warn and rebuke me, some strongly. I continued believing that the slogans on tobacco packages about death, cancer and other pretty things could not possibly affect me. Larger than life I was. Isn't cognitive dissonance a strange thing?

I could not bring to my awareness that getting out from a warm restaurant into freezing rain just to have a smoke made my granny turn in her grave while my arteries were getting more and more clogged by the day, by every single puff on a cigarette, by every single drag. My life was so good again, so why should I listen?

Some years went by, the uneasy feeling in my legs was growing once again, slowly but constantly, until I reached the stage when I could barely make a distance of 50 metres and was in almost constant discomfort. My calf writhing with each step as my body desperately tried to transport adequate oxygenated blood. In vain.  

It was a wonderful evening with a gang of friends of an international composition, with so much fun, laughter, totally uninhibited by ''Weltschmerz'' and the futility of life. When we had to change the place because of a rapidly approaching closing time, I realised I would hardly make it on foot.  The other place was less than 200 metres away. The final alarm was on. Again.

One call to a doctor friend put me in hospital almost the same day. During the first check-ups it seemed it was to be an easy intervention, then they took some blood, did some tests and found out that my blood sugar was above 20. It was too dangerous to operate. I was diabetic too, apparently. I had no idea what my body was suffering from, how could I have been so detached? How dare I feel surprised by my neglect? It was almost one week before they managed to bring it down to an operable stage.

I had peripheral arterial disease. An incurable but controllable arterial disease which affects the limbs, mainly the legs. My femoral artery was entirely clogged, and so were some others. Well, there we go. Another operation, a big one this time, with general anaesthetic and consent forms galore. I woke up after some hours, the doctors couldn't believe how brilliant my readings suddenly were, how my body which obviously was in dire need bounced straight back after being given what it needed. Instead of a longer sojourn in intensive care, I was taken quite quickly back to my room to recover. Yet again, more very good care at the hospital, another operation gone well, expertly well. It made me think of all those accolades Croatian medicine has been getting from all over the world. It is very deserved. Take it from me.

A few more years passed by. My left leg still had a few problems, some due to nerve damage following surgery, but it was truly nothing in comparison to how I felt before that last operation. I got used to stopping when I walked, waiting for a minute or two when I experienced claudication, and continuing. Naturally, I didn't feel enthusiastic about walking at all. My legs felt heavy and not willing to be exposed to any strain. Because of the pain it caused, although that pain was actually my saviour which would help to treat my disease, I started avoiding going anywhere on foot.

Unlike that first time, the famous blue Zagreb trams became my favourite way of moving around the city, and driving too. Then, my doctor scolded me, telling me that I must walk, walk and walk some more. By walking and straining the legs, you help your body develop more collateral blood paths, you help your heart, you help your - everything. I did reduce my nicotine intake, with lots of effort and self-control, but I could not abandon it altogether. By the way, for all you dirty smokers out there - I reduced the number of cigarettes by allowing myself to smoke only on the terrace, outside, never  inside the house. It helped. Maybe you could try that, too. It was quite an achievement for me who once smoked 40 per day, but I still couldn't quite kick it to the curb. Idiotic, I know.

My close friend, Lauren, started to force me to walk. We'd take long walks, not just to a cafe. She would get me to do it daily, again and again. I felt better. The splendid Maksimir Park offers infinite combinations and paths to stroll, for as long as you can or want to. I was forced to make at least 6000 - 7000 steps each time. For orientation, I could make some 200 in one go. Imagine the effort! I had to stop many times, but I did it. Never without losing my breath, panting or anything, never feeling that my heart was suffering. But to tell the truth, my physical condition was not exceedingly good. To put it modestly.

Fast-foward to April 2021. The leaves on the trees were turning green, everything was in blossom, Maksimir Park looks truly fabulous at that time of year, permeated with the birds’ twitter and the gentle breeze in the thick tree tops. As nice as all that is, as a Dalmatian from Dubrovnik, I was craving the sea. Addicted to the sea and, especially, to swimming - at least for 6 months a year, usually - I started coining my plan to go to the coast much earlier than usual and to make the ''summer'' a very long one indeed. I decided to have myself checked properly, to be sure I could spend several months in a village, far from my doctor friends in case, God forbid, I needed one. 

I contacted my friend, a renowned vascular surgeon from Zagreb, and asked him if he would be willing to check me up ''properly'', with scans and the works, as I really wanted to know what was going on inside me, especially inside my arteries. At one of those check-ups, I ''demanded'' that he check my heart. Without any apparent sign of anything. I just wanted to be sure. It might have been genetic hint from some of my ancestors from ''up there''. I had no cardiac symptoms that I could discern, it just came out of the blue.

How unfortunately right I was! My blood pressure was through the roof. I was suffering from hypertension which is high blood pressure, a common condition in which the long-term force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause heart disease. The ultrasound not only found some other little flaws in my heart, but three main arteries were more or less clogged. I needed a triple coronary bypass in an emergency procedure. I was ordered to stay in the hospital that same moment. In other words, I had to be under permanent custody, linked up to various monitors, as my heart could collapse under the strain at any moment. How and why I had not had a massive heart attack during those thousands of steps in Maksimir Park will remain a secret forever. A miracle, in fact, as told to me by my doctor.

An important reminder: there are very, very few sudden heart attacks. They only hit suddenly, when the silently struggling heart can no longer cope.

I did not have a heart attack, as the intervention occurred just before the inevitable happened, and I did not fear one. I told myself I should have that operation as soon as possible in order to be able to - go to the sea. Baby steps.

I spent two weeks in an utterly nice, freshly renovated ward, feeling alright under the constant telemetric control. I became used to the idea that I must remember the cables attached to me round the clock. To me, there were no signs or signals that my heart was penting up to provide enough oxygenated blood to the rest of me. Once again, to praise the Croatian public health system, it is so good when there is a bunch of communicative doctors and, especially, nurses with who you can share a laugh or two. 

I loved the sliding doors that saved everybody from being woken up by doors slamming somewhere down the corridor. I ignored the fact that I was confined, in detention, it was for my sake and for my good. I also ignored the fact that the pandemic and the inability to have visitors made this period of isolation more conspicuous, in some cases even very cruel. I had all the care I needed, my doctor friend (from another ward) would visit sometimes bringing with him absolute confidence and peace to my soul.

Tests, scans, readings, as the big day arrived. Taken by an ambulance to the central hospital to be operated on, an efficient nurse accompanied me to my new room and a new roommate, and luckily a very funny one. Sarcasm is one of my favourite assistants. New doctors, kind and caring nurses. Preparations for the operation, some not pleasant at all, but all done with patience and total care. The Croatian public health system succeeded very well in making me feel safe, despite all the huge question marks and worries hovering in the air and above my own head. 

The surgery was done. I woke up feeling that I was tied to a bed in an unknown space. It was so dark, just one lamp offered a slip of light somewhere in the distance, at some corner or something, my anaesthetic-induced blurry vision and confusion limited my understanding of my surroundings. My throat felt as if it had been cleaned out by a bit of aged sandpaper. I needed water. I tried to yell, but I produced no sound. I realised I was still intubated. I was helpless. I needed water. There was an attentive nurse on the sentinel who discerned my growling sounds in the dark. It wasn't just water this time, it was the blessing of all the Gods that ever existed to me at that moment. Sleep. More water. Several rounds, a few tests. After some indefinite time, they rolled me back to my room. 

The time of colliding with reality, with the seriousness of my body, had come to me. Thank you, Hadrian, you were so right and I hope you were not this sick and unable. I felt like a broken piece of old furniture chucked out into the street from the fifth floor. One slightest move of any part of my body hurt like hell. I felt like I couldn't breathe properly. I needed air. I needed water. I could not get up. I was even afraid to move my head on the pillow so as to avoid more possible pain. I was just one huge battlefield of all kinds of pains spiced with a total lack of energy, breathlessness and a most absolute state of helplessness. I had done it. I'd reached the absolute pits of my life, the lowest point, a very, very miserable point at that.

All I wanted and could do was sleep, but the attentive staff would not let me enter into a deep and healing slumber, they were in every hour to check on me properly. The care was total, but also irritating. I should've been grateful, not irritated. Yet I was helplessly irritated and wanted only to be left alone. 

The very next day there was a guy of very athletic physique who had a very deep and commanding voice: ''Get up, we're going for a walk!'' the voice said above me.

''For a what? You must be kidding, I can hardly lie on this bed…''

''You must walk, come on, get up!''

I thought I would die right there and then, and the post-operation ordeal seemed totally pointless. He helped me out of my bed with his strong arms, I let out a shriek as my entire body stiffened into a complete and utter pain. My legs were shaky, insecure, pains probed me at random everywhere. We did two lengths of the corridor. I lay back on the bed, depraved of life, in brief. I felt I'd done a marathon. They kept coming in and checking on me and asking me about this and that, taking my blood pressure, my temperature, giving me some pills, pain relief, food, checking on my wounds, measuring this, that, asking similar questions over and over. Irritating at the time, but what amazing care from the Croatian public health system this was.

My sarcastic roommate was released and it made me very sad back then, how I longed to leave this environment. Then, finally the day came when they told me I was going back to my original room in the hospital I was checked in at first. There I found out - I who have been fit and slim all my life, had lost a massive 8 kg. I dared to look at myself in the mirror and immediately thought I'd qualify as a photo model for a labour camp. Even my eyes had changed, they were sullen, sunken, looking back at me hopelessly from some hollow spaces, somehow from afar. My greying skin seemed to have belonged to someone bigger, my arms were like two pieces of dry smoked meat. It was horrendous.

After some days, some more blood tests, some more tests, some more questions, I was tested for covid and then released home. It was the very end of June. The temperature outside was around 30º C. I could make it to the kitchen owing to the help of my hands and door frames only, from one to another, aiming with concentration and focus. I had family there to help me and they couldn't do enough for me, which was a God send. My doctor friend came to check on me, to remove my stitches, to check my wounds. I began to walk, each day a little longer, I began to take my body as seriously as it had so nearly taken me for my negligence.

As I'm writing this six months later, I've put the weight I lost back on and I feel I belong to another, far more normal world with that wonderful sensation when you bend to pick something up and nothing hurts. I have taken up exercise regularly, even physiotherapy (another utterly professional service in the very heart of Zagreb), I try to walk as often as I can, to use my Orbitrek and, well, to be happy, meeting with friends for coffees and lunches with all serenity and joy, remembering well what Hadrian had eerily warned me of such long time ago.

Albeit at times when, indeed, there were also my grandparents and parents and aunts and uncles that I would not listen to regardless of their gender, age or advice. I was young enough to know everything, wasn’t I? Weren't we all?

Do not wait to be hit all of a sudden, don't harm your heart until it says no more, check your health thoroughly and profoundly, give up smoking (I know, it's preposterous coming from a filthy ex chain smoker of like 40 cigarettes a day), but if I can stop totally, you can too. Have a drink and be happy for as long as it lasts, because there is an expiry date and more often than not, it comes silently. 

Say what you want about Croatian corruption, politics, the lack of funding, the lack of... well, a lot. But Croatian public health stepped up and saved my life at the very last minute. There are a great many truly extraordinary doctors and other medical personnel in this country. Just in case you read this article with a cigarette in hand not having moved around for a few days... just sayin’. But why should you listen to me after all I have gone through? I'm not your mother, for God’s sake, so let me just wish you a Happy New Year - from my heart!

If you would like further reading material and/or if you're trying to stop smoking, it's worth noting that cardiovascular disease kill more people in Croatia than anything else. That's right, even the dreaded cancer comes second to the silent killer. Did you know there is an artery called the widow maker? There's a reason. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death and accounts for more than half the overall mortality in this country. Furthermore, cardiovascular mortality has been constantly rising since the 1970s due to our dire habits.

Despite Croatia's observance of World no Tobacco Day, smoking is still killing many here, and it is continuing to cripple the Croatian public health system. Hrvatski dan nepusenja (The Croatian day of non-smoking) is also prominent. Can we reverse the trend? Be a part of it before it's too late.

Monday, 29 November 2021

Largest Private Croatian Hospital Coming to City of Zagreb

November the 29th, 2021 - The largest private Croatian hospital is set to be constructed in the City of Zagreb. What Zagreb and the Croatian state failed to do itself will now be made private.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, Poslovni Dnevnik has found out that in 2023, a new Special Hospital for Orthopedics and Traumatology, Akromion, will spring up in the Dugave settlement in Novi Zagreb near the exit towards Velika Gorica. It will be the largest private Croatian hospital, larger than most public hospitals, and Osteon gradnja plans to invest 160m kuna in this massive project.

Orthopedist Nikola Cicak, the director of Osteon and one of the founders of the Akromion Hospital in Krapinske Toplice, explains why Akromion is moving to Zagreb.

"Akromion has become a respectable orthopedic hospital in this part of Europe since its founding, we've found ourselves in a situation where we have simply outgrown the space we use in Krapinske Toplice. It became cramped for us, we lacked space in the wards, to the extent that we had to postpone some procedures because we had nowhere to place the patients after they had their operations. We have nowhere to expand in that location, and we decided to build a hospital that would suit our needs better.

The second reason lies in the location itself, Zagreb is more accessible to our patients who come from all over Croatia, but also from other countries, Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, we also have Croats living abroad and foreigners living in Croatia who need such services. Zagreb will be a better address for our further expansion of business,'' explained Nikola Cicak, who founded Akromion with his fellow doctors back in 2008 in a facility that they rented from the Special Hospital for Medical Rehabilitation in Krapinske Toplice.

In terms of revenue and number of employees, Akromion is the largest private orthopedic hospital in the entire country, and in 2019 it generated 40.5 million kuna in revenue.

It is an institution that specialises in the treatment of injuries and diseases of the locomotor system, with a wide range of surgical procedures on offer, from arthroscopy to the installation of artificial joints and reconstruction, and in addition they are engaged in scientific work and education. Apart from Krapinske Toplice and Zagreb, they also provide services in locations in Dalmatia, more precisely in Split and Zadar.

They have a total of 70 full-time employees, and since its establishment until today, 15,248 operations, ie 249,111 medical services, have been performed in Akromion, and more than 30,000 services are performed on an annual basis, including approximately 1,300 operations.

The up and coming largest Croatian private hospital is being built over 8.5 thousand square metres of land, which Osteon bought from private owners for a total of 12.5 million kuna. The hospital itself will cover about 10 thousand square metres, it will have five floors including a garage, and the total value of the investment is 160 million kuna. Cicak explained how the project was put together after around a dozen previously planned versions, because it was done in such a way that the hospital staff gave instructions to the architects.

"We gave them instructions on what we need, so that they could build a hospital according to our needs, and not to adapt the hospital to the facility, as was the case, for example, during the adaptation of the Akromion facility in Krapinske Toplice. When the pandemic first struck we were sort of in a dilemma as to how to proceed, they asked me if we were still going to go for it, so I said yes, let’s go, now is the right time. We worked on the main project for a year and a half, and that was finished this summer,'' revealed Cicak.

This spring, the company Osteon gradnja was first established, which will be in charge of the project, and the financial side of the construction will be settled with the help of a bank loan that has yet to be selected. There are four banks in the ''game'' - Zagrebacka banka (Zaba), PBZ, Erste and HBOR, all of which offer excellent loan conditions.

Back at the beginning of October, an application for a building permit was submitted, and a contractor was selected, and the Akromion Hospital will be built by the company Kamgrad. The plan is for the facility to open its doors in 2023.

Instead of the current three operating rooms, which is the situation at Akromion in Krapinske Toplice, there will be four rooms in the largest private Croatian hospital in Dugave. Another magnetic resonance imaging device is also being made available, as well as CT scanners which they currently don't have. The hospital, which will extend through one entire department, is also being expanded.

"It will be like patients who go to spas to recover after their operations, which is convenient especially after some procedures such as the installation of a new hip or knee prosthesis. With such procedures, it takes time for the patient to return to a normal life, and whoever wants to return home "healthy" can stay in our hospital in order to do just that,'' Cicak stated.

For more, check out our dedicated business section.

Monday, 8 November 2021

Zagreb Hospitals Increasing Capacities for COVID, Reducing Elective Surgeries

ZAGREB, 8 Nov, 2021 - As COVID hospitalisation numbers are increasing, Zagreb hospitals are expanding their COVID capacities while reducing services that are not essential.

The director of the Sisters of Mercy Hospital in Zagreb, Davor Vagić, told Hina that the hospital is expanding its COVID ward by an extra 12 beds plus eight more intensive care units.

There are currently 60 COVID patients at the hospital and together with the emergency ward, there will be about 100 beds available for patients.

He added that non-essential treatment would be reduced by 25%.

Vagić said that about 550 employees at the hospital had received a third dose of vaccine and immunisation would continue at the the same pace.

The KBC Hospital in Zagreb will also increase its COVID capacities from 113 to 129 and currently there are 108 COVID patients at that university hospital, 17 of whom are on ventilators, the hospital's assistant director Milivoj Novak said.

The Dubrava hospital currently has 135 hospitalised COVID patients and 21 are in ICU and they are all on ventilators.

A Health Ministry task force has recommended that all hospitals expand their COVID capacities.

The Zagreb-based Sveti Duh hospital is currently caring for about 30 COVID patients.

The hospital's head, Mladen Bušić, told Hina that elective surgeries had been reduced to some extent due to acute treatment of COVID-19.

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

For more about Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Sunday, 7 November 2021

6 KBC Zagreb Employees Fired After Refusing Vaccine or Testing

November the 7th, 2021 - Six KBC Zagreb (Rebro) employees have been fired after refusing to be vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, as well as for refusing to be regularly tested for the virus' presence.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic is once again biting hard here in Europe as the season changes and people begin spending more and more time indoors as a result of the colder weather. Infections here in Croatia have climbed to numbers never seen before during the entire pandemic and new measures are now in force to try to combat the rapidly escalating situation.

Hospitals are fearing the same situation we experienced last year and some are already having to make enormous alterations to the way things function to try to deal with the current wave of infections, which are alarmingly high. The vaccination rate in Croatia is still very poor, and a lack of respirators for those with a more severe clinical picture is once again a huge concern. 

Most medical staff across Croatia have been fully vaccinated, some have recently accepted their third dose, all with the aim of protecting the most vulnerable and unwell people in society they are typically dealing with. That isn't the case for all, however, and given the fact that vaccination against coronavirus isn't mandatory, some have refused. Those who refuse must then agree to be very regularly tested for the presence of the virus, but some have even refused that. As a result, they've lost their jobs.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, three nurses, a medical technician, an assistant and an administrator were fired from their employment positions at KBC Zagreb because they did not want to be vaccinated or tested, as was announced on Friday.

“The reason for the dismissal of these individuals is their refusal to be vaccinated or, alternatively, be tested for COVID-19 twice a week. They, after being told they could not come to work without a COVID certificate, used their rights to leave, and partly went on sick leave. However, when they exhausted all of their legal 'leave' possibilities, and still didn't want to be vaccinated or tested, they were handed an extraordinary dismissal,'' said prof.dr. Ante Corusic, the director of KBC Zagreb, in conversation with Jutarnji list.

Corusic also confirmed that the process of terminating the employment contract for four more employees is underway for the exact same reason.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language if it isn't English.

Tuesday, 31 August 2021

These Five Zagreb Hospitals Will Accept Covid Positive Patients

August the 31st, 2021 - As autumn approaches and despite the good epidemiological picture, preparations in the healthcare system are occurring. Five Zagreb hospitals will be accepting coronavirus positive patients, while two hospitals in the capital will be solely for negative patients.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, a meeting was held between the Minister of Health, Vili Beros, and the directors of Croatian hospitals and an expert group from the Ministry of Health. They discussed the current situation with the spread of the novel coronavirus and the redistribution of care for coronavirus positive patients, HRT has learned.

Five Zagreb hospitals will be ready and waiting to accept coronavirus positive patients, while two will be off limits for all except lab proven negative ones.

The hospital in Dubrava, known as the ''covid hospital'' last year, will continue to take care of all patients regardless of what result they return on a covid test, and capacities in other Zagreb hospitals, as well as other hospitals across the country, are being prepared for people suffering from coronavirus, HRT reports.

The vaccination of healthcare professionals with a third dose, which should begin soon, was also discussed.

Jutarnji list has found out that an agreement has been reached on which Zagreb hospitals will receive coronavirus positive people, and which will remain only for negative patients.

KB Dubrava will no longer be exclusively a covid hospital, but will be joined by KBC Zagreb, KBC Sestre milosrdnice, the Fran Mihaljevic Clinic for Infectious Diseases, and the Lung Clinic on Rockefellerova. Two Zagreb hospitals, namely KB Sveti Duh and KB Merkur, currently remain only for the treatment of coronavirus negative patients, Jutarnji has learned.

All Zagreb hospital directors agreed with this ''schedule'' at a recently held meeting of the expert group for the organisation of the hospital system of the Ministry of Health. This would provide about 400 covid beds across all Zagreb hospitals, which should be enough to cope with any new wave of infection, with the provison that in case the number of hospitalised people with coronavirus grows significantly, KB Sveti Duh and KB Merkur would be ready to step in, reports Jutarnji.

For all you need to know about coronavirus specific to Croatia, make sure to bookmark our dedicated COVID-19 section and select your preferred language.

Friday, 21 May 2021

Milanović: Situation in Zagreb Hospital Should Have Been Dealt with Sooner

ZAGREB, 21 May 2021 - President Zoran Milanović said on Friday that the situation in Zagreb's KBC Sisters of Charity Hospital was a disastrous example of neglect and mismanagement, noting that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković should have dealt with that problem right away.

Milanović, who was visiting the northern Adriatic peninsula of Istria to attend an exhibition staged on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the first national revival gathering of the Croats of Istria and Kvarner, commented on the Health Ministry having sent an inspection team to the hospital to investigate allegations of unlawful activities.

"I believe it is a disastrous example of neglect, mismanagement. It describes best what has been going on at that hospital for a year. After a conflict between the minister and a doctor working there, the case should have been solved by dismissing either him or her," he said.

Milanović's statement was a reference to Dijana Zadravec, the head of the hospital's radiology department, who has been replaced over poor interpersonal relations that have resulted in a large number of radiologists leaving the hospital and who claims that hospital funds are used for private interests and that corruption and crime are being covered up.

Zadravec has said that she is in conflict with "the heads of hospital departments who own private hospitals and work to the benefit of those hospitals while using the resources of the public health system."

The person in charge of deciding on the matter, the prime minister, let the situation escalate, said Milanović, noting that the PM could have dealt with it sooner.

"A year later, there is no one left... This is a serious matter and it must not happen because it undermines the little trust left in the health system," Milanović said.

Decision on fighter jets not made

Asked to comment on the purchase of fighter jets following media reports that Croatia has opted for used French aircraft, Milanović said that a decision had not been made.

"I don't know who published that because a decision has not been made, so (the reports) make no sense," he said.

Asked if he insisted on US planes, Milanović said that he had never insisted on US planes.

"I only said that the USA is our main partner, but that does not mean that we have to buy planes from them. I have been saying over the past year that I will support any choice the government makes. Both bids are good. One should take care of Croatia's interests," he said.

On COVID-19 passes

Commenting on COVID-19 passes, he said that if people got vaccinated more, there would be no need for those passes.

I will lay wreaths less and less

PM Plenković has said that there will be no joint laying of wreaths by state officials until the end of his term, to which Milanović today said that he would lay wreaths less and less, "except in cases of major national anniversaries."

He noted that apart from keeping florists working, wreaths were also a serious public sanitation problem because they attracted rodents.

"In the future, I will carry roses, a stone, a carnation wherever that is possible," he said, noting that the point was about commemorating people and events together.

"If he (Plenković) does not want it, so be it. We sat down at the table yesterday and did our job. According to his interpretation of the relations between the president and the prime minister, he was putting on an act. He was not, he was doing his job. I don't do all things I have to do with equal enthusiasm and pleasure either," said Milanović.

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

Monday, 14 December 2020

Minister Says Hospital Increasing Capacity to Admit COVID-19 Patients

ZAGREB, Dec 14, 2020 - Health Minister Vili Beros said on Monday that his ministry had sent the KBC Zagreb hospital, the KB Dubrava hospital and the Hospital for Lung Diseases, also in Zagreb, an instruction to urgently take steps to increase their accommodation capacity for COVID-19 patients.

Beros said the instruction was sent in light of the current epidemiological situation and that the three hospitals would also secure additional staff and equipment.

He added that activities related to the reassignment of medical workers and equipment were ongoing, underlining the deployment of additional doctors and nurses to the hospitals in Varazdin and Cakovec.

"At the meeting with epidemiologists on December 11 we analysed the strategy for fast antigen testing in order to put hotpots under control. Today's meeting of the expert group of the COVID-19 response team discussed the need to increase the accommodation capacity of medical institutions and other current problems so as to determine steps to be taken in the coming weeks," Beros said.

He added that the distribution of 100,000 rapid antigen tests from commodity reserves to county institutes of public health had begun and that so far a total of 250,000 had been distributed.

Beros stressed that the number of COVID-19 patients who were being admitted to hospitals had grown mildly compared to last week, as had the number of new patients on ventilators.

"Even though it is resilient and sustainable in terms of organisation, the health system must be protected from maximum strain. Our main goal is to maintain, as long as possible, the centralised treatment of COVID-19 patients, that way we are reducing the possibility of the virus entering more hospitals, which will  make it possible to continue providing regular medical care," said the minister.

He reported that the number of coronavirus infections worldwide had exceeded 72,655,000 and that the number of related fatalities was above 1,619,999.

In Croatia, there are 1,430 active cases among medical workers while 807 are in self-isolation.

Monday, 14 December 2020

Clinical Hospital Sveti Duh First in This Part of Europe to Treat Recently Incurable Eye Diseases

December 14, 2020 – Zagreb's Clinical Hospital Sveti Duh is the only one in this part of Europe to use gene therapy to treat recently incurable hereditary eye diseases that cause vision loss, ranking Croatia among only six countries in the world that use this therapy in ophthalmology.

As Hina reports, Zagreb's Sveti Duh Clinical Hospital, which became a collaborating center of the World Health Organization last year, is the first regional Center of Excellence for implementing gene therapy for hereditary retinal dystrophies. Patients from about 15 countries, of which more than a third are countries within the European Union, will gravitate to it.

Sixth in the world to apply this method

The final diagnosis, in which this treatment method gives incredible results until recently, is done based on genetic testing, and the first patients received therapy this summer.

Thanks to this well-deserved status of a certified Center of Excellence, Clinical Hospital Sveti Duh positioned the Republic of Croatia as the first country in Eastern and Southeastern Europe to apply this innovative method of treating a hereditary disease that causes blindness. Croatia is also the sixth country in the world (after the USA, Great Britain, Germany, France, and Israel) to do so.

The gene therapy treatment procedure is performed exclusively in certified centers of excellence that must meet all clinical, scientific, technological, and personnel requirements determined by strict and scientifically based regulations of the European Union and the EMA.

"Thanks to this certificate and the decision of the Croatian Health Insurance Institute to cover all treatment costs, patients in Croatia are enabled to treat hereditary retinal dystrophies, for which there was no medical solution until recently. These are pigmented retinopathy and Leber's congenital amaurosis, a very rare eye disease caused by a mutation in the RPE65 gene, which results in certain blindness already in the first years of life, and at the latest in the fourth decade. With such patients, timely application of available gene therapy stops the progression of the disease and can lead to a significant improvement in eyesight," explained prof. Dr. sc. Mladen Bušić, the Clinical Hospital Sveti Duh director.

Lifelong effect

Dr. Bušić points out that their patients subjectively notice easier coping in low light conditions. It also makes them feel that the space in which they move is brighter and better lit.

"From a clinical point of view, their subjective impression was confirmed through our tests, by improving visual acuity in low light conditions, improving contrast vision, and expanding the visual field. All of the above allows them to navigate and move in space, and we believe this effect is lifelong," dr. Bušić pointed out.

This achievement is an additional recognition to the Clinical Hospital Sveti Duh, which confirms the highest professional standards of the Clinical Center of Excellence, this time for the application of an extremely demanding and sophisticated therapeutic procedure.

Costs fully covered

A mutation in one of over 260 different genes causes hereditary retinal dystrophies, so it is crucial to diagnose it in time through genetic testing.

It is estimated that up to 1,000 people in Croatia suffer from hereditary retinal dystrophies. Thus, genetic testing of patients is necessary to identify those in whom an innovative therapeutic solution can be applied.

The Croatian Health Insurance Institute (HZZO) fully covers these testing costs and the costs of treatment for all those patients in whom a mutation in the RPE65 gene causes hereditary retinal dystrophy.

Croatia is the first country in the world to make this possible for its insured citizens.

To read more news about Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Page 1 of 2

Search