Katowice, Poland: Good, Bad & Ugly

A forum to discuss Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency and its relationship to Multiple Sclerosis.

Katowice, Poland: Good, Bad & Ugly

Postby JoyIsMyStrength » Sun Jul 04, 2010 11:21 pm

Many have posted positive reports about going to Katowice, Poland and receiving excellent care. I do not doubt nor do I dispute any of these accounts. On balance, I would like to weigh in with our experience, the good, the bad and the downright ugly.

I also want to clarify that we were Americans visiting their country. It's not fair to expect the same standards or for everyone to speak our language. I'm amazed at how many speak excellent English since it took me the entire time I was there just to learn how to say "good morning" in Polish. When it comes to our medical care, however, I do think it's important to understand the severity of the language barrier in advance.

I also respect the Europeans for re-using old buildings instead of tearing them down. I mention them here because I had such a fairy tale vision in my head of modern facilities based on the EuroMedic website, and wanted to paint a more accurate picture.

Qubus Hotel: The stay here is included in the cost and we LOVED it. Our requested non-smoking handicap accessible room smelled wonderful, no hint of cigarette smoke even though smoking is permitted in the halls. The room was large, bed was comfy, view was amazing, bathroom massive, staff courteous and professional, breakfast excellent, and lots to do and see without ever leaving the building thanks to adjoining mall with shops, restaurants and theater. The front desk staff speak English.

Drivers: Majek and Chris were courteous, funny, and spoke excellent English. They were a big help to us, especially Chris. Majek was helpful too but his driving is a bit scary.

Eye test: We were taken to a nondescript building that barely accommodated my wheelchair. A non-English speaking eye tech performed the quick, painless test while driver Chris interpreted. I didn't
understand the instructions at first and wonder if the test was done correctly for that reason. I was handed a print-out of the results, color-coded but by no means understandable to a lay person. Chris, who is not qualified to interpret the results, told us "Don't worry, green is good!" And that's the end of that. They do not interpret the results, they only explain that it's for research purposes. All well and good but naturally I want to understand my own test and wonder if I'm the one footing the bill for their research.

MRV: Another nondescript building (by this I mean that it is a bit run down by our standards, nothing fancy but not necessarily "bad"). I met some lovely English-speaking staff there. The test was routine. If you've had an MRI you know what to expect. There is no dye injected. The results were not provided on a CD, which was disappointing. Instead we got a two-page print-out of the thumbnail images. CORRECTION: I later discovered that there were 2 CDs full of images in the bottom of the envelope! Sorry, hands are very numb and clumsy... I simply didn't notice them. :oops: Awesome pictures, twice the number I received in the US. My sincere apologies.

Euromedic: I'd love for them to publish the photos of this place on their website, especially the drawing in the entrance hallway of a large marijuana leaf with a line through it, as in "no smoking weed in the building, please." The building is old and dated but the inside is clean and I think they tried to make it cheerful. I was expecting a hospital, you know, with nurses' station and long gleaming corridor with rooms on either side. It is a clinic at best with only two patient rooms with three beds each partitioned off by curtains (actually I didn't see where the men stayed but assume it was the same as the women's). The beds aren't much bigger than cots. The call bell is up high and behind the bed, out of reach. The light switch is across the room. The shared bathroom is small and not handicap accessible.

Blood test: Those Polish nurses are excellent. My veins are a challenge for even the most seasoned phlebotomist but they efficiently got the job done.

Doppler: What doppler? No one in my group received a doppler.

Pre-Op Care: IV was started on the first try, breaking all records. That was awesome. I was catheterized which was a bit uncomfortable. A neurologist interviewed me, then lectured me for not being on DMD's. I smiled politely. No sense arguing.

Pre-Op Consultation: This barely happened and only because my husband insisted. The doctor was in an extreme hurry and seemed irritated and impatient. I was already on the gurney so wasn't really involved unfortunately. We had only 4 questions, one of which was about May-Thurner and entering from the left (we had emailed the question in advance), but given the attitude and the fact that Dr. Simka was not there that day, hubby let it go. One of our requests which we expressed to Marta was for hubby to scrub in and be present. "Who told you that?" barked the doctor. My husband was expressing our preference for stents if there was a question either way but in midstream the doctor turned to enter the procedure room where I was being wheeled in. My husband tried to yell to me through the door that he couldn't be there with me and while he was still speaking the door was slid closed in his face. So much for that.

Venogram: Going from the crude makeshift clinic into the procedure room was really something. It couldn't have been more modern or high-tech with monitors and equipment. They gave me anesthetic and I didn't feel a thing. Before the procedure started I turned to say something to the doctor but again with the irritability: "Do not turn your head! Keep your head straight!" Sheesh. Nobody had told me that so what's with the attitude? I was always compliant, smiling and pleasant, so it's not like I was a "problem patient." Ladies, be prepared because you will remain exposed from the waist down. I could not see the screens and no one discussed anything with me during the procedure. I just lay there feeling chastened. It was over before I knew it and I was wrapped tightly in a bandage around my hips, then wheeled out.

Post-Op care: The doctor came in to explain that both jugulars were ballooned. No bedside manner so I tried to make up for it by working hard to make him smile. I succeeded. IV's were run and replenished frequently. Lunch was served on a plastic bed tray. The nurses spoke very little English but were kind and cheerful (taking their cues from me... I'm cheerful by nature and they responded to that). I had left leg pain which was unusual because the procedure was done on the right. The nurses had a doctor come in, who checked my pulses and could find nothing wrong. The nurses unwrapped my pressure bandage but the pain persisted so pain meds were run thru the IV. I have no idea what drug was used. The pain eventually subsided. My incision never gave me the slightest discomfort. The nurses left it alone. Dinner was served. Husband left at around 8 pm.

Night nurse came in, she spoke no English at all. I was not offered any water (but the men in the other room told me later that they got water). The lights were turned out. My one roommate was Polish and lived nearby so she left. I was alone in the dark. I could hear nurses chatting from somewhere and could smell cigarette smoke. Then everything got quiet. Very quiet. Quietest hospital stay ever. I could see my surroundings a little as the door was ajar.

I slept then awoke needing to use the bathroom. With no way to call the nurse safely (call button in awkward place and I have severe balance issues), I got up and used my wheelchair as a rollator. I made my way to the bathroom in the dark only to find that the entrance to the bathroom was narrowed due to some equipment being in the way. I had to park the wheelchair and hold on to things to make my way into the bathroom, which was not handicap friendly (no grab bars). This was repeated 3x in the dark and I kept thinking the loud toilet flushing might alert the nurse but she never came in.

Sunday morning the two nurses from the previous day came in with breakfast which I didn't touch (hotel breakfast much better). A doctor came in with a prescription for the injections (no instructions for giving the shots, no instructions for incision care, nothing about taking Aspirin) and a disk of the procedure. I tried to ask questions but he said he couldn't answer them as he was not involved with my care. The nurses helped me get dressed and it seemed they were in quite a hurry to get us out of there. Our driver took us back to the hotel.

The next day we expressed our concerns about the above to Marta, who was sympathetic and promised to make them known. She is very sweet and obviously none of this is her fault. We requested a refund for the doppler.

So... I guess the lesson here is, EuroMedic in Katowice is not run like an American hospital. Their standard of care is far lower than ours. I am not sorry I went but I do feel I was at risk of getting hurt in that place. It all turned out ok but... if you have plans to go to Katowice, be prepared... and buyer beware. I hope they improve.

Last edited by JoyIsMyStrength on Wed Jul 21, 2010 5:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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buyer beware

Postby hwebb » Mon Jul 05, 2010 12:26 am

concerning that they charged you for a pre-op Doppler...but never delivered. You don't really need it if they are doing a venogram anyway...but it may be useful when comparing to future monitoring Doppler scans. Also quite concerning they didn't use contrast for the MRV (or was it a brain MRI...but contrast helpful there too ?).
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Postby Jessi » Mon Jul 05, 2010 12:42 am

Hi Pam,

was so nice to read your post, i have same feeling with the service of Euromedic. i had the doppler 30 sec. No Dr Simka or dr Ludyga in operation room, actually i was very suprised , we pay huge money to be with the best specialists in the world and... they are not there. also nurse was sleeping during night shift. they don't speak english at all but is nothing compare to have procedure by unknow doctor. no explanation about the drugs, the gp doctor (before operation) - I got much better knowlage about ms than him.
yes, the hotel was good and the brekfest great but this is not what we need.
my feeling is that sometimes they doing balloons because they dont want loose the patient.

i am so happy that many patients get better after the procedure (i feel better too) but they charge huge money and they should offer what we expect. Probably they need more time ...but why we have to pay for something we don't get.

take care
Last edited by Jessi on Mon Jul 05, 2010 3:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Zeureka » Mon Jul 05, 2010 1:13 am

I had a better impression of services, but maybe I'm used to European standards...I in particular liked that they involved the patients a lot in the process and answered questions, as am not used to that. Or in my week the service was better?

Strange you did not get your doppler though (also if true that during venography they will see the jugular problems). But in principle- I know the amount sounds little compared to the full package price-, but still, to be correct should then be 50 Euro less - you could ask them to reimburse- because that's what they deducted me since said do not need, as already had doppler done. And also that for the MRV strange you did not get a CD, because in my week we all got one to take home (we got two CDs - one of the MRV and one of the procedure).
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Postby Zeureka » Mon Jul 05, 2010 1:32 am

Jessi wrote:my feeling is that sometimes they doing balloons because they dont want loose the patient (money).

Hi Jessi and Pam - I understand your disappointment on the doppler, but in principle it really only takes them little time to see the problem, so the doppler goes very quick. And in January when had the doppler at Simka's Euromedic lab (only went there to do the doppler as a first step) it also took not longer that 5 mins (to find stenosis - the consultation was around 20 since asked some questions) and costed really only 50 Euros.

As regards the CCSVI diagnosis, it is that they found problems with doppler in 95% of cases. I would have a look on the CD of the procedure. In my case you can see clearly the stenosis and that after ballooning blood flow restored. So would not say they balloon not to loose the patients.

I have heard of cases where they indicated to the patient after procedure that unfortunately nothing could be done in their case, since the stenosis was in a point that could not be treated or other reason. So some patients, even if cases rare got no ballooning and no stents. And went home disappointed that their problem not resolved - but Euromedic was honest. I met one patient in hospital in Jan that reported this after procedure and another one in May.

I hope you still appreciate that someone offers the procedure and I personally think - true improvements are always to be sought in service etc. But I also know they really try hard to improve it with weekly meetings (and already saw huge improvements in their services and package offered from Jan to May). So could be good idea to send them an e-mail with your feedback on those points, so they can continue to improve their standards and mistakes - it's important for them to know this! And I'm sure they would then discuss it in one of their next meetings to see how to resolve certain issues to maximise their services.

As for my own experience can only say thank you Euromedic team for giving me and others this chance, as otherwise would today not feel as I am feeling :D !
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Postby mila77 » Mon Jul 05, 2010 3:57 am

Hi Pam,

I have to agree with you that the level of services at Euromedic is not high at all. And believe me it does not look like that im most private clinics in Poland.
I am Polish and just like you I was quite shocked when I saw the buildings, especially in Zabrze, where MRV was done. Well Euromedic hospital ward was not nise too. I admit that operating room looked very professional but rest of the rooms were not equipped at all.
I am used to much higher level of hospital services here in Poland and I agree with you that for such amount of money we should expect something more.
But well, maybe they are not interested in refurbishing or upgrading their premises because thare is a huge demand for their services anyway.
One thing that suprised me thoug is that you didnt get CDs from your MRV or from procedure. In April we all received it.
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Postby colmmc » Mon Jul 05, 2010 5:38 am

Hi Pam
Well as you know I was there 2 days before you, I had a different experience I got all my scans on disc and had the doppler done by Simka.In fact I'm taking the to my GP today.
It's not just the Ladies that have to be naked from the waist down.But I got over that. I don't think I've got anything they hadn't seen before.
I understand where your coming from, But the Hospital was clean the staff Knew what they were doing, And I've had more traumatic trip's to the Dentist.Having been through it I know It's not a big deal. They could be more touchy feely,But they are trying to get through the waiting list and I appreciate trying to make money.
I've got nothing but thanks and gratitude to them all.
Hope your well.
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Postby jozee » Mon Jul 05, 2010 7:02 am

Hi Colmnc,

How are you? I'm doing o'kay. I'm worried I may have restenosed. It's been extremely hot and humid here. Everyone feels lousy in this weather. We really enjoyed meeting you and Debra and all the others.

Hi Pam,

Sorry we missed connecting with you in Poland. I was also in the group before you. I understand how you feel about the clinic. I did not expect it to have the same standards I'm use to. This may have helped with my experience. They did'nt find stenosed veins on my ultrasound, so the venography was the diagnostic tool for me. Everyone is different. I did receive all the results from my test. Hope you are feeling well.

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Postby colmmc » Mon Jul 05, 2010 7:33 am

Hi Jozee
Sorry we missed You & David on our Last day would liked to have said good by, If you ever make it to the UK be sure and give us a call would love to meet up and maybe have a race!
I'm doing OK The big thing with me is heat intolerance seems to have gone and fatigue is much better. How about You?Have you got over the trip yet?

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Postby eric593 » Mon Jul 05, 2010 8:27 am

Thanks for sharing all the detailed info. It's such important info for those of us considering it, and we've only heard murmurs before.

Good to have it all laid out for us.
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Postby Rokkit » Mon Jul 05, 2010 8:36 am

Hi Pam, thanks for your honest post. It's good for people to see all sides of what's going on. I could probably overlook quite a bit, but not seeing Simka would have really ruined it for me. Hopefully they will begin clearly stating that you are coming to our clinic not a specific dr. Also, I'm really surprised by the night care. It seems they might as well just let you go back to your hotel.
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Postby JoyIsMyStrength » Mon Jul 05, 2010 10:25 am

Thanks everyone. I included details that may or may not be important but for me it is about being PREPARED. For example, colmmc, I've had 2 children with a dozen people staring at me the whole while, sure they've seen it all, no more modesty here... but... not everyone having this procedure will be prepared because in the US they would drape that area unless they were working on it. The UK might be different. As for touchy feely I would settle for answering our brief questions, having an actual consult (Zeureka got 20 minutes for that, we got maybe 2 at best), and not barking at the patient. That's just the bare minimum of professional courtesy.

Zeureka we did meet with Marta afterwards and she took notes. Good point though.

My main negatives:
- Eye test with no interpretation of results
- No MRV disk
- No doppler
- No real consult
- Unnecessarily rude doctor
- Risk of falling in the dark

There are positives on balance as I mentioned. It sounds like we just had a "bad care day."

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Postby emess2 » Mon Jul 05, 2010 11:27 am

Hi Pam,

All in all, I'm happy with the care I received. I am EDSS 8.0 and if there are others up there on the scale who are going, I urge you to strongly request to keep someone with you at the clinic overnight. That was the worst part of the stay for me - 9 hours alone and unable to move with no call button within reach (there was always someone nearby who could hear me if I wanted to call by voice).

I had a bedrail with me that I used in the hotel but I did not think to bring it with me to the clinic - while not as good as having someone with me overnight, at least I would have been able to adjust my weight slightly. The beds did not have siderails.

Price-wise, I find the cost very reasonable, especially as I live in a country where I cannot get the treatment AT ANY PRICE. My impression was that Euromedic is doing its best with its limited resources to respond to the unprecedented demand from people living with a diagnosis of MS. I believe Pam and I and everyone else are grateful to them for that.
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Postby Katie41 » Mon Jul 05, 2010 12:07 pm

Hi Pam,
You must have hit a bad day. My experience was 180 degrees from yours. I took Polish/American phrases so I could point to them if I needed something. There was one person on each shift who spoke English, albiet two shifts it was the cleaning girl. She was wonderful, though.

It is my understanding that Euromedic is renting someone else's space for the testing and procedures. They want to build their own as soon as they can. Greg is working hard on making that happen. While the spaces are not new, they are clean. They actually have photos of the clinic rooms on their website. The men's area looks pretty much the same as the women's. I found the bed surprisingly comfortable. It isn't a hospital bed as would be found in the U.S., but the head can be raised and lowered by the nurse when it is O.K. to do so. The nurses's station is off the main corridor in two small rooms. The call bell is a problem, but I just signaled my roommates (both of whom were Polish and spoke no English, to use their callbell if I needed it.
Surprising you received no doppler. Dr. Simka does them. They are quick since he knows exactly what he is looking for. It helps them somewhat but the veinography is the Gold standard and shows them many things the doppler may miss. The doppler is just an added tool. Euromedic is very fair and will certainly reimburse one for any tests not done.
Ignore the neurologist. Most neurologists would have the same reaction. I do the same as you, ignore and smile.
Don't know which doctor you had, but the doctors I had were absolutely gracious, very helpful, and caring. I'm so sorry you ran across a difficult one. In the U.S., I've been in the operating room with doctors who threw instuments across the room and bellowed orders to the patients and staff, so it isn't peculiar to Poland; however, it is not something one wants to experience. Good to let Marta and Greg know!!!
I was uncovered while they were prepping with the antiseptic, the only way they can do that. In the U.S., when having surgery, you also have to be uncovered for the prep. However, as soon as they did the prep, they covered me with a drape for the entire procedure. They also covered my daughter who was treated there. They did talk to me several times during the procedure to let me know what they were doing and why.
Both my daughter and I, on different weeks, were supplied water and juice during the night after it was OK for us to eat and drink.
Good job successfully compensating for the difficulty getting to the bathroom! That must have been a real challenge!!
We are eternally grateful for our treatment and experience. I'm so sorry yours was so different.
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Postby esta » Mon Jul 05, 2010 1:35 pm

i'm so sorry to hear of your bad experiences and thank gawd mine were good...different yes, but good. your bathroom one especially. i knew there was no buzzer, which scared me too, as i couldn't move myself much. the thing i want to expound upon was that i had a pretty serious medical problem where my heart started fibrulating on the table. i received incredible care afterwards - the surgeon came out within minutes asking me questions - a cardiologist appeared there shortly after and had medication put into my iv very quickly. that night i felt sick, yes, no english spoken, but again, they found a nurse within minutes and when i said how sick i felt, i got meds in my iv to stop it all. thats why i'm thinking this was a hospital and there were other wards...
in the morning my husband wasn't there (as i had told him to come later which i'd forgotten, because the cardiologist was going to ck on me), i started to cry, and one of the nurses just hugged me, no language barrier there, just sweet compassion. she didn't have a clue what i was crying about.
my fear now is, because i need to return, i would be devistated if dr simka wasn't there!
I hope you write them...i think they'd appriciate your input.
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