MS Patients in Macedonia refused MRI scans, come back in 4 years


Remember the MRI machine the Government purchased in 2012, it was touted as the best thing since sliced bread.

This purchase was followed with embarrassing mishaps of hospital staff not knowing how to properly use the machine which resulted in numerous breakdowns.

Then it was the more embarrassing Government announcement that they are sending doctors and nurses to get basic training at foreign hospitals, apparently our doctors get their MDs at the Mall and they need to obtain basic training elsewhere.

I’m heading off topic, but you need to understand the big picture. The truth is, the Macedonian capital has state of the art hospitals, but they are private and somewhat expensive. Perfect example is the private clinic of Phillip II. It has easily one of Europe’s best heart surgeon, if not the best, Dr. Zan Mitrev. What Dr. Mitrev did when the clinic opened, he recruited Macedonia’s best doctors (most with international experience), leaving State run clinics in disarray where they aren’t capable of operating even basic equipment.

I was contacted by several MS patients of their mistreatment in Skopje, and decided to investigate. In order to compare apples to apples, I first visited the Phillip II Clinic. This is not a clinic, but a five star hotel. Marble hallways, classic paintings, flat screen TVs, impeccably clean, doctors and nurses available 24/7, very methodical and strict, there is a rule for everything. I spoke to at least 10 patients being discharged from the Clinic, 6 were from Kosovo and swear they would not go to any other clinic. One patient was from Croatia, who said he was told by his relative that the doctors at this clinic were far better than in Zagreb. Then I spoke to a Macedonian from Australia, the doctors in Canberra had botched his lung operation, and the surgeon at Phillip II fixed it.
An MRI scan at Phillip II is 300 euros. A typical checkup runs you 2,500 denars ($48). This gives you an idea of Phillip II. MS patients are welcome, but most local Macedonians can’t afford their services.

The alternative is the State Clinic, where the MS patients who contacted us go to. The State Clinic, compared to Phillip II looks like a poorly run prison. It’s gray, damp, people smoke in the hallway as they should since it’s a hospital!? Everything at the State Clinic is purchased with taxpayers money, including the MRI machine. As a result, most services there are ‘free’, at least on paper.

On initial checkup, when the disease is originally diagnosed, MS patients get a free MRI scan where their lesions are shown. However, when one tries to take another MRI scan six months later to see how the diseases has progressed/regressed, State Clinic doctors tell MS patients they don’t need the scan as their situation is likely worse! What?

If the MS patient is persistent to get a scan, then doctors tell them to come back in 3-4 years, allegedly they only get one free scan every 3-4 years?! Is this in official policy? It can’t be, it makes no sense.

MS patient V.C. (42) says doctors are trying to extract money from them as an MRI scan at the State Clinic cost 200 euros, however MS patients per official Government policy get it free. “I was told I don’t need a new MRI scan, and need to wait 3-4 years for it. A friend of mine who also has MS and took the MRI scan back in 2014 was told getting a new scan would only get her disappointing results. They are just trying to extract money from us” says the MS patient.

The question is, what about cancer patients? Do they wait 3-4 years to find out if the cancer has progressed? Or they too don’t need to know as the scan may get them disappointing results?