— Sergei Pavlovich, where are most of your patients coming from?
- Athletes… Ballet performers… circus performers. Different
kinds of people with different lives and different injuries. During the
years of its existence our clinic has treated Maya Plisetskaya and
Valery Kharlamov, Vladimir Vasiliev and Olga Korbut…We’ve seen
nearly all the players of the USSR hockey, football and gymnastics
teams, and well known movie stars. Sports and art go together not just
because they always involve spurts of creativity, and improvisation.
It’s also because these involve enormous physical stress, and,
- Your patients probably are also pretty tough customers. Yet I don’t
think I’ve seen refined “Kremlin-style” service here.
- We don’t have the funds for that. Most of the wards are for
4—5 people, our operating room is under repair, so we have to use
other facilities, the food…What kind of food can you have in a
hospital nowadays! You’ve probably seen that for yourself.
- Been through it. And not Just the food. I asked the nurse far a
bandaid, and she threw up her hands: forget it.
There’s a real shortage of gauze bandages, and cotton, let alone medicines. And in Moscow you can still put up with the situation…
- And yet your clinic has always been considered prestigious. People
say you can only get in here through pull.
- Well, I’d rather say that it was specialized, intended for people
with specific kinds of trauma. Now we accept anyone. There’s only
one condition, unfortunately: you have to pay for treatment.
- And would you like to become the owner of a private clinic ?
- You ‘re not afraid you ‘d be called a big cheese, someone making
money at the next guy’s expense?
- I’m afraid, even though I’m already 44, I won’t live to see that
day. And, you know, the Russian system, which is great at throwing
around terms like that at western medicine, has gotten our people,
particularly when they get sick, to the point where today they’re afraid to go to the doctor, and they’re even more scared of ending up in the hospital. No one can afford that kind of money.
- You don’t feel humiliated by your own situation — and your own
- What does that mean, “don’t feel humiliated?” I’m pretty ge
nerous, I like to help out my acquaintances and friends, have people
over. But you know that nowadays costs a fortune. And I’ve got one
shortcoming — I don’t take public transportation to work, because I
always want to get to the clinic, especially when I’ve got to operate,
feeling crisp and clean. And gas nowadays… Well, to sum it up,
materially, I’m far from being in the situation of a “pre-revolutionary”
And it’s not just a question of personal tastes and preferences. For example, in Spain from May 25—29 there’s going to be the first world congress on sports injuries. You’d think that we — the representatives of a clinic which has gained unique experience over the years — would be the obvious people to go. We prepared for it, we received invitations. But the flight for me and my assistant would set us back about $4,000. Where is that going to come from? And the congress is bringing together the best specialists from all over, there’s a chance to get unique information, make new contacts. Our only hope is for sponsors. God willing, we’ll find some.— So the popular saying is right: it’s better to be rich and healthy than poor and sick ?
- Yes, today you’re better off not getting sick. What’s going on
in medicine is in fact reflecting more general processes. For example,
while Moscow clinics have always had a huge flow of patients coming
from other cities, today there are a lot less. To come to the capital
for treatment you need a lot of money: to cover the trip, housing,
food, treatment. Today many children’s hospitals have been forced to
practically halve the number of beds. And now we need to think not
just about how to render a person professional assistance, but how to
ease his desperate financial plight. For example, if we’re talking about
traumas, theoretically a fracture of any degree of complexity, even
any compound fracture, can be treated at home. But we’re forced
after virtually every operation to keep the patient in the clinic,
because there’s literally no place to discharge him, and there are no
ambulatory rehabilitation centers. For those you need buildings,
money… It’s a vicious circle.
- To solve all these pressing problems you probably have to be not
just a talented doctor, but also a talented administrator. Do you have
that in you ?
- I learned a lot from my mother. She had to both see patients and
run the clinic single-handed, and that involves hundreds of problems.
- Sergei Pavlovich, sorry for a banal question. Are you happy?
- I think so. I love my work, I have bright colleagues, friends,
my family, my son is growing up…
- How old is he?
- Going on seven.
- Would you like him to follow in your footsteps ? After all, you ‘ve
got, so to speak, a family business going… Zoya Sergeevna ran the clinic,
now you ‘re doing it….
- Well, I’m for family businesses. In the past that for some
reason was criticized, but 1 don’t see anything shameful about it.
When your children grow up, and if they grow up normal, if they’re
not mental defectives why not pass on to them the thing to which
their parents have devoted their lives and energy. But it certainly takes
a lot out of you.
- But one fine clay wouldn’t you feel like throwing in the towel and
going off, well, abroad? Don’t you have offers — someone of your talent
and skills ?
- Of course I’ve had them. In principle, I don’t like making
patriotic noises, but I don’t want to leave. My ancestors are buried
here, there’s my father’s grave, my mother’s reputation, our cause.
And as you’ve just said: my son is growing up…