February 20, 2019

Medical Care

Medical care in Ukraine is evolving, complicated, and, at times, startling. Under the Soviet Union, medical care was free and completely controlled by the government. The Soviet system trained doctors for a short time period in a highly specialized field. Thus, there are no general practitioners or family doctors like in the USA. If you are ill, you should guess at what is wrong and go to that kind of specialist. If you guess wrong, you will get to go to another doctor. Today, the Soviet system continues. At the same time, a few private clinics have opened.
The government system works by the patient going to a clinic in their area during a time the doctor is working (usually a doctor works 2-3 days a week in the morning, the other days in the afternoon). No appointments are made. You just show up, get in line, and wait. Some doctors have ďpayĒ hours if you are not from that area. The quality of medical facilities is quite poor. It may not feel very clean or sanitary but generally, itís OK. The bedside manner of government doctors is usually much more brusque that American doctors.
Private clinics usually require an appointment and often order lots of lab work. Their facilities are usually new and often have more modern equipment. The quality or qualifications of the doctor, though, may be the same as in the government clinic. Since these clinics work on a for-profit basis and do not accept international insurance, you feel their desire to get your money. Sometimes, this can mean you pay much more for unnecessary tests. The American Medical Center (490-7600) is the most expensive of this league, but their doctors have received some training outside Ukraine and speak English. Medikom (432-8888 or 055) can provide ambulance service and Omega Kyiv Clinic provides quality urological and gynecological care. Boris Medical Clinic has also been used. The German-Ukrainian Clinic is to be avoided; itís a money pit.
However, none of these private clinics operate emergency rooms or provide trauma care. Thus, while in Ukraine, itís best not to do foolish things that could easily cause serious injury. Be safe! Trauma care is available but it is one of the least developed aspects of Ukrainian medical care.
Generally, no prescription is required to purchase medicines in Ukraine. An apteka, or a pharmacy, is easy to find. Allergy medicines like Claritin as well as antibiotics (including Cipro and penicillin) are available and just as effective as US or European manufactured drugs. There are often weaker Ukrainian versions at a substantially lower cost.

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