LucaMed Completes First Year
LucaMed, LTD, is celebrating its first year anniversary in Banska Bistrica, Slovakia. Founded by Dr. Pavel Žvak and Dr. Andre Malik, the private medical practice got on its feet only after a period of uncertainty and waiting on the part of these two doctors. Both spent several years of medical missionary work in Miles Jesu throughout Eastern Europe and in India and Nigeria. After returning to their native lands (the Czech Republic and Slovakia), the idea of a private medical practice was born, but the funding and government requirements presented an obstacle.
After returning to Slovakia, the doctors spent their time helping other private practices and working in hospitals. Then the bishop of Banská Bystrica, Most Rev. Rudolf Baláž, announced his plans to construct a new medical center in the region, which would be dedicated to the cure of breast cancer. The bishop invited Drs. Pavel and Andre to begin their own private practice in one wing of the new medical center.
Dr. Pavel says, “We were able to start in a brand new building and plan the layout of the clinic with an architect, an unusual privelege for doctors. We also knew that working alongside the Church would give us a greater opportunity to orientate our private practice for the wholesome benefit of our patients, not only physically, but also spiritually and psychologically as well. This was also the bishop’s vision in starting a special center for the treatment of breast cancer, which has an above average occurrence in Slovakia. He wanted to bring the highest level of medical care to the region and to address a particular need in the area.”
The new clinic was put under the protection of St. Luke, the patron saint of doctors. After one year of operation, the number of registered patients continues to grow, while Drs. Pavel and Andre also fill in at other private clinics and both also work nights at a local emergency room, in order to cover the overhead expenses of LucaMed until there are enough patients to make it self-sufficient.
Dr. Pavel recalls one clinic where he worked in order to assist the general practioner who needed to take leave time because she was pregnant. “She had asked many other doctors whom she knew to take her place while she had her child and took care of it until she could return to work. However, for the most part her request was met with disgust that she was having her third baby. She was treated as if she was too stupid to be worth helping. I saw filling in for her at her practice as a way to give a concrete sign of support for her decision to have a family and raise children.”
Dr. Pavel says that LucaMed is giving him an excellent opportunity to be a witness to Christ and the gospel of life. “We have a lot of young people who come to our clinics, both married and young single people. There is a lot of pressure on women to have abortions. Magazines for women in Slovakia are very aggressive in promoting sterilization and abortion. Having our own private practice gives us excellent opportunities to educate people on the effects that their decisions have on their health.”
“Our ethical guidelines are based on what’s good for the whole person, both physically and psychologically. Through these guidelines we point out to married couples the benefits of following natural methods for regulating births, rather than using artificial methods that can interfere with the body’s hormones and that also harm the environment. The same issues also come up when treating patients with hypertension or diabetes. In the case of infertility, rather than turning to artificial insemination or other approaches that have questionable ethical grounding, we can advise couples on naprotechnology, which is an ethically sound way for couples to overcome this problem.”
“Besides married couples, we also see quite a few young people for whom we can be a positive moral influence. Sometimes a young person comes to us with a sexually transmitted disease, or a young lady asks about contraception. By establishing a relationship with these young people, we hope to wake them up to the damage that they do to their body, no less than to their soul, when they make certain choices.”
“In our work as general practicioners,” Dr. Pavel concludes, “we really see a connection between the body and the soul. In our practice our goal is to instill in our patients an awarenenss of their health as an ecology of the whole person.”
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