It’s always an honor to stand on the steps of the University Children’s Hospital in Krakow (UCH). I am often asked my nationality by local residents bringing their children to the Hospital for treatment. When I say I am an American from Project HOPE, they break into smiles -- and thanks ensue. And for good reason -- Project HOPE has been supporting the UCH for nearly 40 years with health education programs for medical professionals and, as well, critically needed donations of lifesaving medical equipment and medicines.
The people of Poland gratefully recognize the importance of this long-time support which has provided better health outcomes for their children. This support is a shining example of one of HOPE’s core philosophies, “Helping People Help Themselves.” Through the government’s assistance and the dedicated staff at the UCH, the Polish people have also built upon our support to develop the Hospital into a Center for Excellence for health care training throughout Poland -- and the region.
When visiting young cancer patients at the hospital this week, I heard a common story about the growing collaboration between primary care and tertiary care physicians resulting in both quicker diagnosis and earlier treatment of pediatric cancer. In keeping with this, we celebrated the extension of two health care programs, sponsored by HOPE’s partner Boeing that, with the help of the UCH, will provide training for children’s health programs in Romania and Hungary.
I ended the day by meeting with some of the health care leaders trained by Project HOPE, including Dr. Marcin Kuta. Dr. Kuta, now the Director of the E. Szczeklik Specialist Hospital in Tarnow, graduated from Project HOPE’s first Health Care Management (HCM) Training Program in Poland in 1996. He told me the program not only impacted his own career, but also helped him and his colleagues change the health care system, in a positive way, during a time of great change in Poland.
“When I participated in the program back in 1996, there were no other training programs for health managers available in Poland,” he said. “The program’s exceptional approach -- emphasizing the practical implementation of the training, including working on case studies, participating in fellowships with regional hospitals in France, and leveraging the platforms of other HCM participants to exchange and share ideas during that turbulent time for the Polish health care system - cannot be overestimated.”
It was an inspirational return to the University Children's Hospital Krakow!
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