Silent heroes of our day

City Hospital/ Photo: Sloboden Pechat/ Slobodan Djuric

Somehow we got used, almost from the first, to criticize anything and everything with or without basis, and a special place in our criticisms is occupied by our public health system. I would say well founded. But as some say that karma is, I had the opportunity to see for myself the opposite. I was a "guest" for several days at the University Clinic for Surgical Diseases "Sveti Naum Ohridski" Skopje or popularly called "Old City Hospital" in Skopje. According to the clinic's internal schedule, the head of the operating block - general surgery specialist Dr. Gjorgi Stavridis - was in charge of my "guest visit". I was admitted to the hospital in accordance with all the usual procedures, in a four-bed "men's" room. When I entered the hospital, the names of the former top surgeons, anesthesiologists and other masters of the medical profession of Yugoslav and European caliber, such as Prof. Dr. Vladislav Vlajko Gruev, Dr. Janko Obochki, Dr. Avram Balabanov, Dr. Dragoslav Mladenovic, Dr. Slobodan Vuchkov, etc. Our older citizens surely remember these and some other names, only for good. So how is it possible that the current "representation" is different from its predecessors? Simply impossible! Fortunately for us, masters create masters!

The word patient comes from the Latin noun "patientem"; the original meaning of the word means "one who folds", or "to fold". It is known that any disease to a lesser or greater extent degrades the personality of "the one who suffers", whether it is about pain, dysfunction of the body, etc. I had the opportunity to test the health system of our country on myself and my body, and I guess - you will give credence to this my first-hand experience. When you take into account the dry statistics that more than 100.000 outpatient examinations and 4-5.000 surgical interventions, i.e. operations, are performed at the City Hospital in Skopje annually, can you imagine how important our City Hospital is in our lives and health?

Dr. Ljuben Arsenkov/ Photo: Sloboden Pechat/ Slobodan Djuric

The City Hospital is an old building in the center of Skopje, the construction of which began way back in 1931; outside of the architectural philippics known for this building, I would say that the real treasure is the people in medical uniforms who daily and self-sacrificingly take care of and improve our health, considered by the paramedics, nurses, anesthesiologists, internists, surgeons - headed by the first among equals - the famous surgeon in the country and the region - Dr. Ljuben Arsenkov.

When was the last time you had the opportunity to see the director of any public institution on a Saturday before midnight coming to work only because he received a call from the doctor on duty that it was a complex surgical intervention where the knowledge and experience of Dr. Arsenkov was crucial " to be or not to be”?

Dr. Gjorgi Stavridis/ Photo: Sloboden pechat/ Slobodan Djuric

My health "guide" and healer, surgeon Dr. Gjorgi Stavridis, visited his patients several times daily, including weekend days, not losing his temper at ignorant questions or findings read by DR. GOOGLE. For each of the patients he had time and tact with a kind word, medical advice and authority which is necessary when working with people; at times his sermons to patients resembled real mini psychiatric treatments. All in the service of patients' health. Impressive! About the surgical abilities of Dr. Stavridis – I do not comment; it is enough to know that I am the author of these lines free from trouble, all thanks to the hands, mind and knowledge of Dr. Stavridis. To my observation that I see the medical staff for several days in a row more often than I see myself in the mirror and to my question to Dr. Stavridis "is he at home"?, I received a cold-blooded answer that this is "his home". It was expressed without pretentiousness or self-pity; it just was. This also applies to Dr. Stole Jovanov, Dr. Andrej, Dr. Limani, Dr. Nadezhda Spirovska, Dr. Nino Gruev and all the others who were a constant presence with the patients in the hospital rooms and corridors. This is due, among other things, to a lack of any kind of staff and an attempt by employees to be seven-headed dragons; to be always present where it is most needed.

If the old Latin proverb that says "medicus curat natura sanat" (physician heals and nature heals) is taken as an assumption, I would add that "nature" in my case is nurses and their treatment of patients. It is that small army of hard-working bees in blue and white uniforms without whose expertise, self-sacrifice and help of patients, the healthcare battle cannot be won. Sometimes a gentle smile or a comforting word means more than all the medicines in the world! Those nurses have names worth remembering – head ward nurse Natasha Mitrovska, Ljubica Bube Noevska, Eleonora Slezenkovska, Jasmina Hristovska and others whose names I did not remember (forgive me).

After everything, the conclusion is imposed on me that all is not lost, thanks to the examples and people I mentioned. It could, can and must be different. And they are flesh and blood people, with their own concerns, capacities, families, friends and more. The above-mentioned persons and others similar to them - our society should treat them as the highest social value of special importance. This is not pretentious at all considering the final stakes and outcomes. A healthy person can do anything, a sick person - nothing! Finally, if one per mille of what I personally witnessed first-hand and "processed" at the City Hospital was applied to other areas of society, believe me, it would become Monaco in no time. Well, those are the silent heroes of our days in a nutshell. God bless them!

The author is the director and media director of the FREE PRESS


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