Don’t Get Sick In the Balkans…or Else!

Over a local beer, I was told a cautionary tale by a new friend of mine, a girl who comes from Poland, lives in Montenegro currently, and is studying in Serbia with me. She’s a self described “Balkan Freak”, loves all things Balkan, and has traveled the region extensively. One time, after being in Belgrade awhile, she developed a shooting pain in her left hip area. It was so excruciating she couldn’t stand it, so she had a friend take her to the local hospital. Luckily, she had private insurance that she had purchased back home in Poland and it was recognized all over Europe and guaranteed her admittance to better hospitals, better care, medicines, etc. So she was admitted to a military hospital, said to be the best around. When she entered, she said it was like World War 3 had just happened and everyone was desperate. The hospital waiting room was total Chaos! A woman giving birth, a man with a finger cut off and he was holding the end of it in a bag, a guy going by on a stretcher with some sharp object sticking out of him. She got into the patient area, and she said it was full of beds, all in 1 room, that looked like they had been around since Tito’s time, with a suspicious looking stain on her bed. Immediately they hooked her up to a morphine drip. Then a male nurse came over to her, while smoking a cigarette, and plunged a needle into her to draw blood. Next to her was an old woman groaning and moaning, and cursing at her, “Damn You Polish! Coming here and stealing our hospital beds!” The old man on the other side of her bed had his pants down, giving a urine sample right there by the bed. It was madness! When she gave her urine sample, she was actually allowed the privacy of the hospital toilet, and what do you know, it was a hot zone of filth and grime. Finally when they came back with her test results, it became apparent that she was crawling with every kind of bacteria known to man. She was supposedly inflicted with some nasty bacterial infection and suffering from the toxins, filth, bacteria, etc, that had somehow entered her system. So they kept her on morphine for the night and sent her home with a bag of opiates, and spent the rest of her week in Belgrade high as a kite.
After returning to Poland and following up with a local Polish doctor after a bit, her samples came out squeaky clean. All it took was a week in a civilized city, and she was as good as new. And as a reference, this occurred sometime in mid 2010.
And now as I’m writing this, I’m noticing my stomach is feeling a bit queasy, and my throat is a bit sore…but alas, I don’t even have a European private insurance, so I can’t imagine the kind of treatment I would receive at the normal hospital if I had to go. So let this be a warning to all, don’t get sick in the Balkans, or else!!

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4 thoughts on “Don’t Get Sick In the Balkans…or Else!

  1. I could say the same for a trip the ER in some of the worst NYC hospitals 🙂

    Drink some grappa (or that unpronounceable liquor they drink) and have some soup, you’ll feel better in the morning (or hungover, take your pick). 🙂

  2. It was also the case like that in Subotica hospital for the longst time, but now due to EU accession, they have to improve and have improved many of these things. No more smoking in hospital, everything is squeeky clean and they are renovating everything, things are turning out for the better.

    I recommend for anyone coming to Serbia to goto private clinic always, it costs about 1000-1500 din for a doctor visit but its well worth it!!!!

  3. What the hell did I just read? I lived in Serbia and got sick because something stupid I did, I had inssurance and went to a really nice, clean and beautiful hospital! The medecines were quite effective and got me better very very fast. The food and everything were so good and my health was better than ever (except for that stupid thing I did). Your friend just had bad luck, that’s it.

    • I’m glad you had a good experience with health care in Serbia. Unfortunately my overall experience with general hygiene and santitation was awful. Lots of public bathrooms with no soap, no running water, or no electricity, and were unclean. And instead of encouraging people to see a doctor when they were sick, or at the least, wash their hands to keep from spreading germs, they just went to the pijaca and bought more garlic. I think this country has a long way to go in health and personal hygiene.

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