"in safe hands". Tokuda Hospital, Bulgaria.

We have all come into contact with the Bulgarian health care system, at some point.
For one reason or another we've all been faced with state run hospitals, where either ourselves or a loved one has needed treatment.

If you haven't then you're in for a treat!

They are basic, less than welcoming and often less than accommodating to foreigners. However they are never the less effective, and often treatment and diagnosis is not given with a held hand and a warm smile. They do get a job done.

I'm here to tell you about a whole different place. A place where you can go and talk to doctors. Believe it or not they are willing to take time and listen to whatever problems big or small you may have. A place that you are welcomed by a smiling face and a reassuring hand to let you know you're not alone.

Now if you're anything like my self you have a family you love and care about, who's safety and health are everything. I have two young girls, who have had their fair share of problems. From normal childhood illness to tonsillitis every month and between them five bouts of pneumonia.
In eight years never once have I had a definite diagnosis for either child until now.

I’m sure you can begin to imagine, the stress and the worry over the last five years alone. Back to back antibiotics for both girls, either or both sick every month and winter is no fun for anyone.
After having a chat with a friend he put me in touch with a lady called Violeta Kircheva .

Violeta works alongside Tokuda Hospital as its assisting partner, helping foreigners who are in need of medical help. She helps all foreigners whether you live in Bulgaria or you are willing to travel for medical treatment. Her website is www.treatmentbulgaria.com or you can contact her on her mobile number which is 00359878799103, or her email is violeta (at) treatmentbulgaria.com

After a brief rundown of my problems Violeta arranged for me to visit Tokuda Hospital. She kindly arranged all the appointments, and within a very brief period of time she contacted me with all the information I needed to plan our trip to Sofia.

Upon arrival at the hospital, Violeta arranged the registration with the hospital then we headed off to our first set of appointments.
The girls both needed to see a pulmonary paediatric specialist. Violeta had arranged for us to see, Dr Kenderova, who is a specialist in both pulmonary and paediatric illness.
The environment and atmosphere in the hospital was not one I had experienced before. The waiting room was completely designed to make children feel comfortable and at home which in turn had the same effect on me.
All the while Violeta did not leave my side, happy to get me anything I needed or wanted.

We did not have to wait long to see Dr Kenderova.
When we entered the office Violeta introduced Dr Kenderova, then proceeded to explain the problems with my youngest daughters chest.
After a complete examination which lasted about twenty minutes. I left the room finally with a clear and defined diagnosis.
I also had a treatment plan and a timeline for follow up appointments to make sure the treatment was effective.
It was a similar story for my eldest daughter.

What struck me the most and the hardest was the specialist listened to what I needed to say. She was inviting not in a rush however above all content to chat with me and my daughters.

I left feeling happy and confident with both the specialist and her prognosis.

Next we went to ENT, where Violeta had arranged for us to see Dr Kulev an otolaryngology specialist.

I honestly thought I couldn't be anymore inspired than I had been. I was in for a pleasant surprise. Dr Kulev welcomed us into his office with a friendly smile and a warm handshake.
Violeta requested that I clarify the issues we'd been having. He listened with intent again something I wasn't accustomed to.

This time it was my eldest daughter first, believe me he was very through in his examination and once again I was given a clear and concise diagnosis. Her treatment was pending test results. He made me feel comfortable, I was happy to trust his judgement.

Then it was my youngest daughter. Now I honestly didn't think she had any problems connected with ENT . She had her tonsils removed at two and a half years old at a state hospital in Pleven, but Violeta assured me it was better to have them both checked.
Dr Kulev seemed more than happy to see them both, time did not seem to be an issue.
Again his examination was extensive, which is a huge testament to him, because he was able to tell me my youngest daughter had a hearing problem, which I had no idea it was there. He gave me a treatment plan for her and follow up appointments. My girls have been faced with many doctors here in Bulgaria
I can sincerely say I've never seen my daughters take to a specialist like they did Dr Kulev.
As we left it wasn't a push out the door to get the next patient in. He made it very clear what his plan was for my children, I left the same way I was welcomed with a friendly smile and a warm hand.

Now my eldest problem warranted surgery with Dr Kulev. I won't go into details only to say that the sheer complexity of thoroughness that they went into to make sure my baby girl was safe is a testament to both Dr Kulev and the hospital. Every single eventuality was covered in every possible way they could.
During the process of my eldest daughter having her surgery, I mentioned to Violeta that I had on going issues that I would like a second opinion on, I would like to follow this up at a later date. As I write this I'm twenty four hours out of surgery.

I cannot go much further without saying; none of this would have been possible without Violeta.
She is a wonderful girl who goes further than beyond the call of her job for people she has in her care.
For me she's been a valuable support network, advice and rock in a time which was difficult for me.
The network of support through my daughter’s surgery and after care from both Violeta and Dr Kulev was second to none, and one I will always be grateful for.

So instead of being yet another horror story about the Bulgarian health care system. The staff at Tokuda Hospital are a profoundly dedicated team, that see it not as a job but a vocation, helping people through some of the most difficult times in their lives.
I truly felt that Dr Kulev, Violeta and the team that surrounds them cared about us both. They have set the bar very high in reference to the standards that I know can be achieved here in Bulgaria.

So if you're reading this and are for a second wondering if you should get a second opinion, just do it. For the price of a phone call they could save your life or set your mind at rest either way they can help you.

Interview with Dr valeri kulev

I managed to steal an hour of the lovely Dr Valeri Kulev's time, and asked him a few questions about himself. Why he became a doctor and a surgeon.
Along with his choice of field and some of the things that we take for granted as to how they affect our children and the natural progression of ENT related issues.

I first asked Dr Kulev why he became a doctor. He's always had an interest in biology and chemistry and at a young age was faced with the dilemma whether to become a vet or a doctor. Over a period of time being a doctor started to take his interest more so it progressed to win the dilemma. He then went on to explain that his decision to become a surgeon was influenced by peer pressure, as he went on in his younger years to do an internship at an ENT department this coupled with suffering similar problems as a child gave us the talented surgeon we have today.

I went on to ask him about different cases he'd seen in his career and if one in particular had stayed with him. He explained that in the field of ENT there are no two cases the same. Ranging from the minor illness of runny noses and sore ears of young children to the more serious aspects of oncology each case has its own bearing on him as a person and each case is as important to him as the next. He also stressed that for him the complete satisfaction came in knowing he had the knowledge and skills to help a choking child and watch them breathe again or in five years time seeing someone who has recovered from cancer. It became very clear in the interview that Dr Kulev invests a part of himself in every patient he sees, also in the medicine he uses to treat them.
We went on to talk about Tokuda Hospital and what it has come to mean to him. With a definite warmth he describes how the hospital has given him the opportunity to put into practice all his medical training. Also the team that has become the ENT department, function like a family and the management of that family brings one hundred percent of each doctor to the patient.

I also asked him if he found a difference in working with both cultures. He explained to me that to him the only difference he had noticed over a period of time was that there is a richer understanding of medicine in other cultures although Bulgarian people are starting to change that.
We went on to discuss working with children, this seemed to bring a note of affection to his voice and a certain twinkle about him as he describes how working with children is easier, but the key for him was becoming their friend rather than their doctor. Something tells me the child in him is very much alive in there.
After that we talked about the effects the Internet has on people and parents diagnosing themselves and the dangers a little information can bring. He also talked about the methods of surgery that the team uses as a whole, here again it became very apparent that the department functions as one unit, each case is discussed based on research, experience and the most up to date information the decision is made as a team rather than just one doctor.

We covered a vast range of topics to do with ENT. Which included the geographical influence, environmental and globalisation affects that also come into play when dealing with different ENT related diseases in adults and children. As well as the possible genetic link.
All in all probably one of the most interesting hours I've spent, talking to a very inspiring person.

Joanne Nicholas

Posted 23Mar2015