By Tina King ….
For those of you who may remember my previous article regarding health care here in the TRNC, I have been on quite a journey since writing about general health screening to try and help provide some clarity of what do we really need to be tested for and why we should take time to research hospitals here.
Health screening – GET INFORMED, GET TESTED, LIVE HEALTHY
My partner in crime who has helped me on this road to discover more about health screening is an ex paramedic from Australia, and the UK, having worked in London for the past 10 years. I guess I should also explain that I worked in the Cancer Research sector for many years and for the last 10 years worked in Cancer Services in Cambridge. (Special mention to my hubby who was a Rapid Response Paramedic and a Jet2 GP in the UK who has helped us as well)
I was delighted that quite a few readers of CyprusScene gave some really good feedback for me on my previous article and gave me the encouragement to find out more information where possible. This was also supported by comments on recent experiences in and around some of the hospitals based here in Kyrenia. Some obviously were very good and unfortunately some bad. I would like to just emphasize I am not a specialist, I am just curious as to why we don’t investigate health care more for ourselves here in the TRNC, this is just an account of my findings and my own opinions.
There is a lot of good and bad across the board, but what I have noticed here in the TRNC in particular is that many people here research a symptom and self diagnose themselves. Get into a panic then go and get unnecessary and sometimes expensive tests.
Which led me to ask why do so many people go and have loads of blood tests? Unless you know what you are looking for, a blood test may be completely irrelevant, or for example one test could be elevated through an infection how would you know. Doctors take years to learn every possible cause and diagnosis, so why do we think we can do it all ourselves in 20 minutes off YouTube?
On researching hospitals we are faced with a barrage of private health checks all in beautiful glossy brochures and have results in less than 3 hours. They all come with differing options and in particular the staggering varied costs from 200TL to over 1800TL plus, needless to say I got completely bamboozled myself.
With this all in mind, I thought why on earth are people having blood cancer tests in Wellness clinics especially as over here they happen to be very expensive. These tests are usually completed in conjunction with a biopsy, imaging and diagnosis of a suspected, recurrent or cancer spread? So on asking a very senior consultant specialist here in the TRNC he said with a smile ”it’s just what we Turkish do”. I rest my case.
So why do we practice self diagnosis here? In the UK the first thing we did was contact a GP; discuss the symptoms with them directly. Any tests were jointly arranged, bloods, imaging all to aid a diagnosis, then a treatment plan, if referral to a specialist was required, and further investigations and tests were necessary our GP would organise this for us.
When I started to research hospitals here I found that we can arrange to attend a general medical health clinic, but that does appear again to have varying costs attached. So where do you start…
On my travels I found the Kolan GP Medical Centre where there is a GP/ Paramedic on duty 24 hours, and support nursing staff, and an A&E Ambulance. I went to visit and try to find out why we don’t appear to be utilising them more, especially as a GP can pre diagnose a symptom, provide diagnostics, treat and/or if applicable refer you to a specialist directly (again you could do your research and seek your own specialist).
The practice Manager of the Kolan GP Medical Centre is Dr Gűnçha Dervış, and she is supported by a great team that speak English. The clinic has the capacity to deal with any minor ailment and has its own small 2 bed day ward. The clinic has an A&E assessment room run by a paramedic team and nursing staff with an ambulance on 24 hour standby in the event a more serious condition is diagnosed. There is also a resident phlebotomist / Anti-coag laboratory and X-ray department. Several specialist outpatient clinics are also supported here including Radiology, Podiatry, and Orthopaedics.
Interestingly the GP, the Podiatrist (Who is English and fully qualified ex NHS) and the Physiotherapist all work in the community as well as run clinics in both the GP Medical Centre in Girne and the Kolan British Hospital in Lefkoşa. So if you are unwell, or have difficulty getting to Girne give them a call and they can arrange to make a home visit. I also understand from Dr Gűncha they can provide transport if needed.
Following on from my visit to Girne I met with the Medical Director of the Kolan British Hospital, Harun Gűlmez, Cardiovascular Surgeon in Lefkoşa and subsequently met the extensive team of specialist consultants, who I have to say have been very supportive of my desire to get the Wellness Clinics revised.
They were very honest about some of the comments I had received from readers stating that language was an issue not just for English patients, but Russian, French, German all of whom speak English but the majority of staff and consultants in the Kolan don’t, which is rather ironic when it’s called the Kolan British Hospital. However, they are on the case with a tutor who will be providing English lessons twice a week for all the staff.
Having made several visits now and with the full support of Gynaecology and Urology I am pleased to say we are now just waiting for the clinical investigations to be costed. I am very excited that we are nearly there and will be launching these wellness clinics for both men and women of all ages within the next couple of weeks.
In order to help you assess wellness clinics I have put a small explanation together regarding all the individual tests and why they are necessary, so if you would like a copy of this please contact me on the details below and I will send it out to you along with details of the wellness clinics on completion.
In addition to the wellness clinics, the Kolan’s Dermatologist Aysel Őzenergűn Bittaci suggested that a Skin Cancer Screening clinic would commence on Friday 20th September at the Girne Medical Centre. Depending on the popularity of this clinic it will run every two weeks or once per month. The actual skin examination only takes about 10 minutes of your time to be screened but ultimately it really can be life saving. I thought this was a great idea as now on researching I cannot find any such clinic being run here in TRNC.
If you would like to attend a skin screen clinic, I have also prepared a self examination form where using a map you can list any moles that you have concerns with or have noticed any recent changes. Bring this along to the clinic with you and the Dermatologist can take a closer look for you. So again if you would like a copy of this form please contact me. It just helps you to be a bit more thorough when looking at your skin, perhaps in some places you hadn’t thought of.
Hopefully, the information and forms I have put together will help you make more informed choices or at least help you ask more questions, something I don’t think that a lot of us are very good at.
Please take some time to go and register with a clinic or hospital, and make sure you ask questions. Look at what the hospital specialises in, for example the Kolan British Hospital has Assc. Prof Murat Uğraş, Urologist who I would consider to be an extremely qualified and experienced consultant. Ask for a tour around the hospitals, go and see an inpatient room, what is the food like? you wouldn’t buy a car without looking under the bonnet! Don’t accept that just because someone recommends you to a consultant because they are so nice and speak good English that they are competent, you don’t want nice you want that person to be an accredited, experienced consultant.
It’s your life! In their hands….Get informed !!!
Get Tested, Live Healthy
So thank you to everyone who has supported me on this journey (you know who you are) and I look forward to hearing from you with any comments or information. Don’t forget to email me should you want the skin mapping form or list of diagnostic tests and reasons, or just more information on some of the other clinics such as Podiatry.
Finally, Stay Active
(You can always come to try a dive with me at Cyprus Underwater Explorers!………? just a thought)