An apple a day....Finding doctors in Bratislava

Being sick is no fun. And the last thing anyone wants to think about when they feel badly is trying to explain what hurts and where it hurts in a foreign language. Fortunately, doctors in Slovakia tend to be well-educated and well-travelled, and many have picked up terrific foreign language skills on the way. So it's not too hard to find an English-speaking doctor in town. There are two basic options for non-emergency medical treatment in Slovakia right now: public or private. Foreigners with one-year or longer residency permits are eligible to join the Slovak health plan and be plugged into the country's health care system, where medicine is very cheap or free. For many foreign visitors, private medical care is a more promising - and less complicated - option; private clinics usually require a payment in cash, but most people can apply for a reimbursement through their health insurance.

Being sick is no fun. And the last thing anyone wants to think about when they feel badly is trying to explain what hurts and where it hurts in a foreign language. Fortunately, doctors in Slovakia tend to be well-educated and well-travelled, and many have picked up terrific foreign language skills on the way. So it's not too hard to find an English-speaking doctor in town.

There are two basic options for non-emergency medical treatment in Slovakia right now: public or private. Foreigners with one-year or longer residency permits are eligible to join the Slovak health plan and be plugged into the country's health care system, where medicine is very cheap or free. For many foreign visitors, private medical care is a more promising - and less complicated - option; private clinics usually require a payment in cash, but most people can apply for a reimbursement through their health insurance.

Private medical clinics also tend to be easier to navigate than hospitals for foreigners. They very often have the most modern equipment, a number of specialists on staff, and English-speaking doctors on the premises. One example is the Medicínske Centrum in Devinská Nová Ves. Dr. Eve Durechová, the English-speaking internist at the center, explained that they are happy to treat foreigners. Visitors should begin with a visit to her, and then she can refer patients to the cardiologist, gynaecologist. urologist or homeopathic doctor on staff. A routine visit is likely to cost around 800-900 Sk ($30).

Dr. Ana Čapová, who is the staff doctor at the American Embassy, is also happy to treat foreigners who are not embassy personnel. She, too, can refer English speakers to any number of specialists at the private hospital in Podunajské Biskupice, where she works.

While private clinics offer easy access to English-speaking doctors, don't despair if public care is your chosen option, for the big hospitals also have many English-speaking doctors on staff. Take, for example, the Kramáre hospital there are four optometrists who speak English. In addition, every other department has at least one English-speaking doctor on staff, and the emergency room has several.

So buck up. It's not so bad. Take some more vitamin C, pick up the phone and call the doctor. You'll feel better soon enough.

Another dentist who speaks English

To follow-up on information previously published in this space (Number 15, September 13-26), another English-speaking dentist in Bratislava is Dr. Michal Straka. His office is at Križna 44, on the third floor, and he can be reached at 07/214-945.

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