However, the first non-government medical clinic was not welcomed with open arms. "When we started our mission here in Munkacs, the state medical institutions looked at our work with hostility," says Dr. Oroszi. With the state hospitals struggling to get government aid, a privately funded clinic receiving help from outside countries was soon viewed as a better place to work and be seen as a patient. The Luke Society clinic slowly gained a lab, an x-ray machine, an ultrasound and other quality equipment.
Another revolutionary feature of the clinical care offered is the appointment schedule. Each patient is granted a 30 minute visit with the doctor, which is unheard of in state institutions. "Our purpose from the very beginning is to have the patient be the focus of our services," says Dr. Oroszi. "We want to notice our patients, not only their physical problems and needs, but also their spiritual problems. That kind of relation to the patient is absolutely unknown in the state care facilities."
Today, there is no health insurance system in Ukraine. Patients must pay for 100% of their treatment and medications, which they usually cannot do. And because the salary for medical personnel is so low, most of the young doctors and nurses are leaving Ukraine and going to higher-paying countries, leaving Ukraine with a deficit in quality health care.
"In our region, the family doctor will have only a stethoscope and an instrument for measuring blood pressure in his office," Dr. Oroszi says. "With even the smallest problems, they must send their patients to the hospital, and the outpatient offices at the hospitals are very busy. They have many problems with their equipment. Very often the laboratory is closed and the x-ray and EKG machines do not work."
The staff realize the problems with government health care, and therefore try to make their patients as comfortable as possible. It is this careful attention to the patient that has set the Luke Society clinic on a level all its own. "This is absolutely not typical of health care in Ukraine," says Luke Society Medical Director, Dr. Laslo Vacko. "The biggest problem is not the walls and equipment, but the doctors and nurses. It is not enough if they do this work for the money. They have to have the heart."
Dr. Vacko is convinced that many of the patients entering the Luke Society clinic simply need someone to talk to. Patients come to him suffering from sleep deprivation, depression and other ailments. After talking with him, many are surprised at how much better they feel and are thankful to return home without spending money on expensive medications.
The vision of the Luke Society clinic is to serve those who cannot afford quality health care. Many of the people living in villages have no access to government health care, so they travel, sometimes hundreds of miles, to come to the Luke Society clinic. Unlike a government hospital, when patients come for an x-ray at the Luke Society, they only pay the cost of the film, approximately $2.00. A low quality x-ray at a government hospital includes the cost of film, development of the film, equipment fees, electricity, etc., raising the price far above what most can pay. Even then, the quality is too poor for most doctors to read them.
In August, 2003, the Luke Society ministry decided to take a step further to reach the poor areas in the Transcarpathia region. In the nearby town of Vilok, the Luke Society, with help from gracious donors, opened a satellite clinic under the care of Dr. Ivan Blinda. The same level of quality medical and personal care is applied at this clinic.
In just two years, God has richly blessed the satellite clinic in Vilok. When the clinic first opened, the doctors were seeing 35 patients a month. They are now seeing 60-80 patients a day! Dr. Oroszi and Dr. Vacko travel to the Vilok clinic every Wednesday to see patients. "We enjoy very much the work in this remote area," says Dr. Oroszi. "We love the people there, and it is a very good feeling to help the people in this area."
As in many of the Luke Society ministries, Dr. Oroszi also promotes community health in his clinic. His staff has created and translated several different materials for their patients to read. "But this is not enough because there is a big percent of gypsies who cannot read or write," says Dr. Oroszi. "They need more time for personal conversation."
In 2007, Dr. Oroszi has made an effort to promote health in gypsy villages. He hired a nurse, Margit, who is "a great helper and organizer."
In the winter of 2007, the staff started a program among the gypsy camps for the treatment and prevention of worms. "The children usually have anemia, which is caused by worms," says Dr. Oroszi. "It was a long and difficult time to explain to them why they needed to take the tablets to prevent worms. Many of them refused from the beginning, saying they did not feel sick. But Margit did a good job of explaining."
The last two years have been exciting for Dr. Oroszi and his staff in Munkacs and Vilok. They were able to add an x-ray machine to the clinic in Vilok. And in Munkacs, they improved the Medical Center with lab equipment for immunodiagnostic and a spiral CT scanner, which is the only one in the entire region!
Dr. Oroszi also considers it a success that his staff continues to have an impact on their patients. "They are coming very often not only to see us with their physical problems, but also spiritual, asking us for advice," says Pal. "It is an unbelievable feeling when they return with success in solving their spiritual problems!"