Hello loyal reader,
Here is what happened three days ago.
I enter the Medya Diagnostic Center, MDC, the white (with a little blue) building on Erbil’s hustle and bustle of the 60-meter road.
A smiling young woman greets me at the main reception, “can I help you?” she asks as she widens her smile. I make my enquiry, and she politely directs me to follow the red-coloured line on the ground. I look down; the lines are perfectly painted, clear and clean despite the hundreds who walk over them daily. I reach another reception, and I am greeted with another smile. I need these smiles, I think to myself, as I have been dreading two of the medical examinations I have lined up for today.
I hand in a paper, and the young lady uses words like ‘tkaya,’ ‘farmoo’, and ‘barez.’ Every staff member I have eye contact with exchanges with me a smile, and we nod to each other as if we are friends.
I am given a receipt and told to sit until the number appears on the screen. I sit, take out my book, find the page I have marked to read, and before I finish the first line, my number is on the screen already. Maybe I am having a [really] good day today?
My feet are now cold and shaky, it’s the nerves before a medical examination. I make the payment and walk to do the tests listed. I am greeted by a lovely (again, smiley) gentleman. He scans the barcode on my paper and reads my name. He goes through the list of tests I am undertaking and asks if I can confirm they are correct. “Yes,” I reply nervously. He reads the nervousness, so another nurse joins to hold my hand and speak to me until we finish. He offers for me to stay and rest in the room until I am comfortable to go. He says the results will be ready at 3:42 pm. Yes, 42 to the minute.
“Would you like to pick up your results, or we can send them to you via WhatsApp, Viber or email?”
I receive one result about 18 minutes later, and the message reads “supas bo chawarwanit” (thank you for your patience). This time, looking down at my phone, I smile.
Being the curious person I am, I peek into the bathroom – it is as clean as a bathroom you visit in Dubai mall in the section where the higher-end brands are. I look behind the lab, and it is probably just as good as the laboratory facilities at Oxford’s medical facility. While I walk around admiring every corner, I am asked by a staff member if I am okay and if I need anything. And another smile is exchanged.
I admire all the accreditations MDC has. It has the American CAP accreditation. I learn that random samples are taken and sent abroad, there is a yearly audit, and the facility has surveys for the patients to give their feedback. I understand from the organogram on one of the walls that there is a quality assurance department and a corporate wellness department for patients with national and international insurance coverage. The facility has other departments like HR, finance, administration, patient service, nursing and even primary care physician. The department heads all look so young! Could it be a secret ingredient?
I learn there is a free home lab service. The center also has a Pet-CT scan. I assume the only, or one of the first, in Iraq. I read on the screen that the average waiting time is three minutes. They have even timed the waiting. I am in owe. The center is filled with sections for fliers created by MDC on various common illnesses and diseases. The type that I have seen in Australia and the UK. Also, there is free wifi – in a medical center in Kurdistan!
The staff are not from any European or western country. They are young Kurds, the same people you see in some of the country’s hospitals and health centers *those I often complain about. Before I leave, I am tempted and ask the receptionist where she is educated, “in Erbil,” she replies and smiles (of course! always a smile). We have a quick conversation, and I am told she is given weekly training at MDC with all her other other colleagues.
As I exist and walk to my car (extra parking space would be the cherry on top), I come to the realization that every hospital and health care provider in Kurdistan can be like MDC if only it invested in its staff, if it had the proper management in place and a greater vision for this country. I shut the car door and think to myself: Whoever is running this place needs to be appointed as Minister of Health!
At 3:07, precisely 35 minutes before the time I was promised, I receive a message on my WhatsApp with the document of my second results. With it comes another text, it reads “bahiway salamati,” (wishes for good health) – two words I have never heard from any healthcare provider in Kurdistan.
I decide to write a blog about my visit. Since I complain a lot, sometimes, it is worth mentioning what is going well in my city too. A few days pass, and I forget to write the blog until today when a young lady called and asked me if I had visited MDC a few days earlier. “Yes!” I replied, and she asked about my experience and whether I have any recommendations to improve the service.
I look at my phone again, just to check it is a local number and this is not a scam. Turns out my patient number had appeared in their random sampling for daily surveys. “People in my country sell homes, cars and apply for a visa, to travel abroad and receive this service on foreign land,” I tell the lady on the call.
There is hope, with the right people, dedication and a vision, the healthcare system, service and experience in Kurdistan can be transformed.
You can connect with Medya Diagnostic Center on their Facebook, Instagram, and Linkedin.
Love from my
Nest in Kurdistan
Over the years of writing this blog, I have complained about healthcare in Kurdistan on various occasions – perhaps a few more than various? Like this, this and this too (oh, here is another one. You can read it after this). Let’s agree. I’ve rarely had a positive experience. For the first time in a long time, I have hope. A lot of hope!
This blog post was written in March of 2021. I realized I hadn’t made it public after visiting MDC a few weeks ago and having such a fantastic experience, once more. Since the time of writing this post, my father consulted with doctors abroad for his medical condition; MDC digitalized all his MRI and other scans and sent them to his doctors. The doctors in Germany and Australia did not request for his examinations to be redone and recognized it. Sometimes the extra penny is worth the experience, authenticity, and accreditation of the medical results. These are all expenses on the provider.
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