Health care in the TRNC

Check UpOr should the title be Health Check Up in the TRNC, something that many people seem to forget about? Yes, some will say they have health insurance but surely prevention is cheaper than cure!

A couple of months ago I read about health checks being organised by TRNC Healthcare under the auspice of retired UK nurse Christine Offord. She had previously run a week of Women’s Health Checks at the Medikent Hospital in Lefkosa. The take up over the week was quite staggering, 160+ I understand went for the female related checks. Ironically it was Christine who came away from her check up with a potentially life threatening problem that required urgent treatment. Thankfully she received treatment and the last I heard she was fully recovered from surgery.

This time the checks offered for men was quite extensive, within my knowledge, being offered at half price by Medikent. The price for men under 50 is 537TL and over 50 625TL. These prices are still current and appear to be the rate for the foreseeable future.

So, I trundled down to the hospital expecting to find, on the basis of the ladies attendance, a squad of like minded men. There were THREE of us and over the week that Chris had organised a total of 22 men had made appointments. Interestingly one of the three was a Turkish Cypriot proving this is a universal issue. Is it bravado or cowardice that men are not as keen to find out about their state of health, especially given the sedentary life style of most of us here in TRNC?

We were met be a delightful young lady, Zalife, who speaks perfect English and for future reference she is a great point of contact for those of us that sadly do not speak Turkish (me included). She stuck with us for the whole day making sure we saw the right people and were given an interpretation of a couple of issues we struggled with.

After ensuring our paperwork was all correct we headed off to see the resident vampire; to get the blood tests done silly!!!! Being honest, I am one of those who can faint for no apparent reason and because of a bad experience a lot of years ago I inform all clinicians of this fact. The vampire did not really understand this issue, or maybe was just not used to being told, but Zalife stayed and chatted while the armful went into the bottle. Key for me in this is the Prostate Test, being of that age group. Also included is a whole barrage of tests for liver, kidney, blood sugar and all the ones you have heard of on ER and Casualty. The reason for this being first call is you must fast from midnight to ensure a perfect sample. Also there was the inevitable pee in the bottle and the “poo” sample. This was the hard one as I am a “go when I get up” person and there is then no more. Try as I might during the day, nothing doing, so I returned with a sample at a follow up session.

While down in the bowels (sorry) of the hospital we also had a chest x-ray taken. Following that it was off to the small cafeteria for a very nice and much required cheese toastie and a cuppa.

The next move was back down below stairs to have some of that nice cold jelly smeared all over the belly which you can never get it all off again afterwards. Yes, it was the abdominal ultra sound. It was quite funny talking to the doctor doing the test because when he asked where we lived, I of course told him Karsiyaka to which he replied he had read about the story of house break in there. When I told him that was my story his response was that he has now met someone famous. I was quite touched. Then the bad news, I had a small fat build up on the Liver which the consultant would interpret along with blood tests to see if there was a problem.

Now it was the turn of the Ophthalmologist. Have I said, this hospital is only a year old and they have all the latest equipment? The very nice young lady first abused me, sorry told me off for leaving it so long between this and my last full eye test  5 years ago. Then there was all the usual tests that we are used to as a matter of course in the backward UK but all the equipment was housed on a pivoting central pod (best description I have) so it was all brought to you in the same chair. Very impressed was I!!

The three of us on this session chose not to have the dental check up because we are all regular attendees at the local Diş Hekimi. Instead we saw the ENT consultant. He shoved appropriate lights and probes into the three orifices and all came away with a clean bill of health.

Nearly forgot there was an ECG taken along the way before visiting 3 consultants. The first had a prod and a poke checking for hernias and whatever else. The second was a Urologist who checked blood results, ultra sound and I got the one result which was probably the biggest concern, but there was no indication of any Prostate problems. Final Doctor was where my blood pressure was taken and listening was done to whatever is listened to with the stethoscope. Then the one problem that has come up, HIGH CHOLESTROL!! This was indicated in bloods and obviously the traces on the liver. So it was a prescription and please come back in 2 months. Sorry ladies, but this was the one doctor I would have chosen if I had to return!!

Finally was the treadmill test! I was a little bothered with this because I do not think I am fit enough. However 15 minutes later I had impressed myself and the doctor supervising was very happy with the result.

This was a very satisfactory day as far as I was concerned and certainly value for money. I know our local Health Centre in England used to run Well Men Clinics on an occasional basis but offered only a fraction of what this day did.

Now I’ll move on 2 months for my return visit to see consultant regarding my high cholesterol reading. First another armful of blood, I am sure phlebotomists have parts in most vampire movies. Then on to the doctor for results, the drug prescribed had done its bit.  However I must maintain the level of prescription for a further 6 months and return for a further check up. This part did cost the usual consultant fee, and a charge for all the blood tests, but in the overall scheme of things that is no problem.

If anyone wishes to have a Check Up at Medikent there is a range of prices depending on if you are male/female and on your age. I have a copy of the flyer with details if anyone wants me to send one. Alternatively contact Medikent in Lefkoşa – 0392 680 8080. Ask for Zalife on ext 404, she speaks perfect English.

Directions from Girne, take the third exit on the main roundabout at end of dual carriageway. Take the first right towards Gonyeli and the hospital is 150 yards on left, you can see name on roof.

I know we are all on tighter budgets, many of us due to problems in TRNC not of our making, but it is better to have the preventative maintenance than the emergency breakdown.

DAVID WATERS [email protected]

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