Sa, 4.02.2023
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Ukrainian gynaecologist to leave Hiiumaa

Anneli Ammas
, reporter
Ukrainian gynaecologist to leave Hiiumaa
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Photo: Tairo Lutter

A gynaecologist from Ukraine is leaving after four months of working at Hiiumaa Hospital, not having acclimatized with the island and the islanders not acclimatizing with him. Doctors will continue to take turns and visit from mainland Estonia. 

As Ukrainian Dmytro Kovalenko with ten years of experience arrived from Zaporižžja, he was warmly welcomed by the local newspaper as a Christmas gift for the island which just lost its long-time and only gynaecologist and none would venture to reside on the Island from mainland.

It soon appeared, though, that not all who needed the help would visit the Ukrainian. The reasons surely being embarrassment before a stranger and a foreigner, and also a man.  

Also, there was the language problem – younger women do not speak Russian and all were not good with communicating via a midwife for interpreter.

The start was still full of promises as the young physician begun to take private classes of Estonian and was already using a few expressions.

Initial conflicts with midwives came in second half of January, but they more or less overcame these. The more so that he was the only option.  

Never acclimatised

Now, at end of March, both sides – the islanders and the Ukrainian – have realised it is not working. There were days no patients signed up and expectant mothers were considering travelling early to mainland to give birth there.

Meanwhile, no errors in treatment had been reported to Health Board as at yesterday.

Even so, on an island of less than 10,000 inhabitants talk travels fast. The main fault colleagues found with Mr Kovalenko was not being too swift to accept Estonia treatment guidelines and the lack of cooperation with rest of team.

Anyway, the Hiiumaa Hospital advised that the Ukrainian get serious training with Estonian system and guidelines, have some more training and practice.

Also, he was supposed to show greater diligence in studying the language. Doctor Kovalenko opted to give up further efforts.  

Chief nurse at the Hiiumaa Hospital Riina Tamm said Mr Kovalenko will be working till April 27th.

From there on, the hospital has agreements with the major hospital on mainland.

The language issue

The incident has brought about discussions regarding thoroughness of screening for physicians from third countries entering Estonian healthcare register as physicians. An issue would be differences in length and quality of professional education in various nations.  

At the moment, dozens of doctors from third countries are in line to get registered. The language skills are currently up to future employer to check.