At the beginning of 2021, Jelena Stupar spearheaded a SAMA Project to help Health Center (HC) in her home town Trstenik. After collecting the funds, we contacted Dr. Zaklina Ristic, director of the HC to discuss the needs, and decided to donate 4 new ECGs and defibrillators, as well as a small 24L autoclave. Total value of this donations is about $17k USD.
Trstenik lies in wide, fertile valley of West Morava river surrounded by fields with dark, rich soil ready for spring crop sowing, intertwined with fields of green, young wheat. When we visited in early March 2021, surrounding mountains were capped with snow. The municipality of Trstenik has about 40000 people. This health facility provides residents with basic health and dental care. It employs 50 doctors and 7 dentists, and provides pretty comprehensive primary health care.
Director of the Trstenik HC, Dr Žaklina Ristić, impressed us with her energy, ambition and desire to improve quality of health services and conditions. Together with her staff, she is working tirelessly to modernize necessary medical equipment and improve access to health care to all their patients, both those located in Trstenik township, and those in surrounding villages. Their vision is clearly spelled out and visible in each of the waiting room in Trstenik healthcare center:
“We will be the best health-care center in Serbia, we will provide health services by trained and experienced staff, without waiting, in pleasant atmosphere and with modern technology, and continuously improve patient and staff satisfaction” (see photo bellow).
In addition to the HC facility located in township of Trstenik, Trstenik HC includes 4 small facilities located closer to surrounding villages. Each of these facilities has at least one full time doctor assigned to it. These facilities are very important to remote villagers. In addition to providing more convenient access to preventive health care, their proximity to the remote population may literally mean difference between life and death in emergency situations such as heart attacks, stroke and serious, life threatening injuries. Without these 4 remote health care facilities patients will need to seek emergency help 30 or so kilometers in Trstenik or Kruševac.
That is why it is very important that these remote facilities are equipped with necessary medical equipment, such as ECGs and defibrillators, to be able to provide immediate emergency care, as well as initial patient triaging. During this trip, we visited one of the 4 remote health care facilities in Stopanja village and spoke with two physicians who work there, Dr Zoran Piperac and Dr Ljiljana Ristić. Stopanja local healthcare facility provides healthcare service to more than 15 remote villages. Number of villages supported is similar for other 3 remote health care facilities in Milutovac, Velika Drenova and Medvedja. Today, none of these 4 facilities have any defibrillators, and existing ECGs are more than 15 years old and frequently malfunction or are out of service. Health facility in Stopanja was last time renovated 40-some years ago and signs of wear and tear are clearly visible on outdated equipment and facilities. For example, heating is old and insufficient and signs of roof leakage are visible throughout.
Faced with limited resources, Dr. Ristić is rightfully prioritizing modernization of health care equipment and services over facility improvements.
Later in March, we visited Trstenik HC again and delivered new ECGs and autoclave. Defibrillators were delivered in June 2021.