The government is the biggest health service provider in Turkey. Every city, town and many of the villages have various health facilities run by the state to serve 80 million citizens. Bodrum State Hospital has been working around the clock to find a cure for patients since 1995 as the only general hospital owned and run by the state in the peninsula.
In 2011, the hospital management had decided to set up a new department called International Patient Unit to match the specific needs of international patients by providing guidance and translation services.
By considering the touristic potential of the region, all the hospitals in Bodrum provide multilingual services. But let’s be honest, I wouldn’t expect such an approach from the state which has a reputation based on bureaucracy, distant communications and insisting on status quo. However, apparently there are some people out there trying to make a change in Bodrum State Hospital and I appreciate their hard work on my behalf.
Frankly, I didn’t know the existence of such a unit they found me via this blog. I liked the intention and attitude behind their efforts to increase awareness towards their established services focusing on international patients.
When I was checking my e-mails, I found the below message in my inbox. I think it describes well who they are and what they are trying to achieve.
We are working in the department of international patient in state hospital, we have a medical coordination office staffed by doctors, nurses and interpreters who serve the needs of international patients coming here for treatment. We would like to create awareness for who need a compassionate healthcare. We aim to give a friendly and professional service to all patients and try to do our best for sending them back home healthy, satisfied and happy. If the patient decides to come to Bodrum for treatment, the international patient department will make the necessary arrangements including consultation, admission and transportation. We always company to our patients not to make them feel alone.
Our payment policy is formed by The Republic of Turkey - Ministry of Health, so you can see the same price in every Turkish State Hospitals.
We know you via your web site and we’d be so pleased to meet you if you come and visit us in our office.
I've been in the emergency for a few times to accompany some of my friends but I didn't know the other side of the hospital where outpatient clinics are located. The invitation I received was a good opportunity to find out how it is so I went there on my next time in Bodrum.
It was pretty easy to get there. All you need to do is going to minibus station next to the Bodrum Intercity Bus Terminal and get in a “Hastane” minibus (hastane means hospital in Turkish). It took only 10 to 15 minutes but can take slightly more depending on the traffic. The minibus dropped me right in front of the outpatient clinics.
If it is not an emergency, you can even walk there. Google Earth says it is around 1.5 kilometres away from the terminal. For example, it took almost half an hour to walk back but I was taking a lot pictures on the way. You should just keep in mind that you are going to need to climb a ramp for about 400 metres on your way to the hospital.
I didn't take a cab but I think it shouldn't cost too much. My guess is the taximeter can read something around 6-7 US Dollars from the taxi station located next to the minibuses.
You will come upon a large glass door on the right after entering the outpatient clinics’ lobby. You can’t miss “International Patient Unit” sign above. In the room, I met Mrs. Gonca Ozer and another lady sitting there with big smiles on their faces.
There were papers and files spread out over the desk. Obviously they were in the middle of a meeting but still they had enough time to explain their mission. They were kind and one could easily sense the excitement in their voices when talking about their International Patient Unit and related projects.
Actually, the idea behind the international patient unit is quite simple: helping you feel like home by solving communication issues and handling the paper work concerning the hospital and your insurance company.
The unit serves in three languages at the time of writing; English, French and Russian. German is on the pipeline but the date is not clear yet.
Although experienced medical translators are available during regular hours in autumn and winters, in summers they change the schedule to match the increasing demand. For example, they said they worked 7/24 between May and October in 2014.
When you get there in need of a treatment, they accompany you to ease your communication. They assist you in selecting physicians and medical staff, stay with you during clinical examinations, help you to follow hospital procedures and make necessary arrangements with your insurance company back in your country.
I don’t know what other hospitals in Bodrum do but what they told me sounds pretty well as an individual who always feel uncomfortable in a hospital environment even on patient visits.
I've been hearing the word health tourism for a long time but I didn't know the state hospitals are also developing and working on projects related to this topic. That’s why it was surprised me to hear that International Patient Unit is serving more than 800 patients from all over the world each year. It appears there are many people who try to overcome the possible low spirit of having medical treatment by fighting back with having an amazing vacation at the same time. Isn't that cool?
Bodrum State Hospital offers a wide-range of specialties and operates an emergency service. I picked a brochure from the reception and made a list of the general topics. I hope neither you nor any of the people you care will never need them but I think it is good to have an idea what you can get.
Enjoy every moment in Bodrum, have fun and feel the spirit of the Aegean Sea but please don’t forget to take good care of yourself. However, if somehow you have to stop by Bodrum State Hospital, don’t worry, they will do their best to send you back to the sunny beaches as soon as possible.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank to Mrs.Ozer and Bodrum State Hospital for their kind invitation and providing a lot of information which are all new to me. I’d really love to see the same attitude and excitement on all other state owned services. It was nice to see the things are changing somewhere out there.