Dr Anelia Racheva, Administrative Director of Nadezhda Hospital, on the dedication to patient care
More than 16,000 babies have taken their first breath at Nadezhda Hospital under the delicate care of dedicated specialists. The hospital specialises in women's and reproductive health but strives to offer patients comprehensive health care under one roof. Dr Anelia Racheva has been a part of Nadezhda Hospital since the very start and now is still putting her whole heart into the mission to give patients hope.
Dr Racheva, what has changed since the establishment of the hospital?
We are living in a dynamic world, which is constantly changing. For example, several governments and six different health ministers have changed until now. I hardly need to mention the global COVID-19 pandemic, which put an unexpected and heavy burden on hospitals and became a kind of test of what we were capable of and what we knew. New challenges and much greater expectations have arisen for doctors.
How we have changed – we have grown, attracted new specialists as well as many young doctors. In 2014 we became a specialisation base in the fields of оbstetrics and gynaecology, medical oncology, neonatology, and anesthesiology for physicians and health care professionals. Our first three graduate students are now our colleagues. We pass on our experience, but also our philosophy, to the young doctors. Because what hasn't changed is our vision of medicine – as it should be and as we do it. For us, the most important thing is the patients and their health. As well as being effective in treatment by putting all our energy into it – but most of all by working with our souls. And considering the increasing number of patients who come to us – we are clearly on the right track. For example, for the ninth year in a row, we have an 8% increase in the number of births in our hospital and that is in the context of the general demographic crisis.
In 2017, our training and specialisation program became the reason to get accreditation by EBCOG – The European Board and College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology for training doctors from all over the world in Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
The European standards of Nadezhda Hospital have led to an almost unbelievable phenomenon – specialists who have graduated in medicine, specialised and worked abroad in countries such as Germany, decided to return to Bulgaria and to become part of our team.
What is the role of the administrative director in a hospital that offers comprehensive health care under one roof?
It is a diverse one. Hospital management cannot be performed by one person alone. We are a team of professionals working together to provide a peaceful environment to our colleagues as well as excellent patient care. Even in the harsh conditions of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have managed to keep our team, to provide medical professionals with the necessary protective equipment, materials, and devices for their undisturbed work. We were able to keep their salaries intact so that they could take care of their families. And we achieved all of this together because at Nadezhda we all believe that the most essential condition to be a good professional is to be a team player.
Many foreigners trust the hospital for the treatment of fertility problems. How do they learn about you?
Bulgarian families have always been and will be our priority. But, as you know, today information spreads extremely fast. We have patients from all over the world, from countries such as Japan, India, and the USA. They come to us because we have been recommended by other patients who were satisfied with our services. Another reason is our cooperation with clinics from different countries around the world, with which we conduct joint training, we participate together in scientific forums, share experiences and discuss complex cases. We are becoming better recognized among patients as well as among the scientific community in Europe and worldwide.
You are preparing to take part in several international exhibitions. What's coming next?
In 2022, we have accepted invitations to take part in several forums. The events’ programs allow foreign patients to learn about the modern methods of assisted reproduction that we apply at Nadezhda, as well as to have a free consultation with our fertility specialists. The events start with Kinderwunsch Tage in Germany – 26-27 March in Berlin, 11-12 June in Munich, and 8-9 October in Cologne. In March, our leading specialist Dr Georgi Stamenov will personally consult couples with fertility problems.
On 7 and 8 May in London, we will be at the oldest and largest fertility forum for patients in the UK – The Fertility Show, again with Dr. Stamenov. We also have an invitation to take part in this year's Kinderwunsch Infoweekend Forum in Zurich in September.
What are the other medical areas in which the hospital is developing in terms of women's health?
Since its start, the hospital has aimed to provide quality health services to women and their families from birth and neonatal care, through adolescence, pregnancy, and maternity, to menopause.
To illustrate our work philosophy, I will give an example of the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer that we carry out here. First of all, we carry out disease prevention procedures – mammography and echo mammography in the Medical Imaging. If we detect abnormalities, our surgeons get involved – with consultations, tests (aided by our laboratory sector including clinical laboratory, histopathology, and genetics) and, if necessary, with surgical intervention. After a discussion between the various specialists – surgeons, oncologists, а histopathologist, and а geneticist – they try to define the most effective treatment.
In many cases, cancer therapies cause damage to the reproductive capacity of young patients. Our assisted reproduction specialists are among the pioneers in Bulgaria who have introduced the oocyte cryopreservation for women who are about to undergo chemo- or radiotherapy. This procedure is also applied here. When the treatment is successfully completed and the woman would like to give birth in the future, frozen eggs are an opportunity for her to fulfil her dream of having a child.
Chemotherapy is carried out in the Medical Oncology Clinic. The specialists who work there won’t stop fighting for the patient, even if the first line of therapy does not give the expected result. The clinic runs over 100 clinical trials that give access to the latest experimental therapies, which is a great opportunity for them. We believe that the successful treatment of patients no longer ends up in overcoming cancer. Our goal is for them to regain the same quality of life as before the disease. In addition to the preservation of reproductive material, in the last three or four years, we have begun to work even more actively with a team of psychologists and also in the field of reconstructive plastic surgery, which is aimed at restoring the comfort and self-confidence of patients. This is an example of our philosophy and the synergy within our teams. Our patients meet friendly faces and are recognized by the specialists in the different units who are already familiar with the history of their disease. This makes them feel special and cared for, and makes them trust us. And patients’ trust is the most potent medicine.
Nadezhda Hospital is a symbol of leadership in reproductive medicine in Bulgaria. How did you achieve this?
Since the hospital's very beginning, medical professionals at the hospital have been guided by a couple of core principles. Treatment cannot be successful if the soul is not healed as well. The body is more receptive when the patient trusts her doctor. This trust can be achieved with humane approach, the desire to listen and be open with the patient, the ability to carefully communicate. At Nadezhda, each case is treated as a personal fight that we fight till the very end. We, at Nadezhda, do not fear to look beyond the boundaries and to seek the needed solutions by applying international innovative methods and technologies. Something more. With our scientific and research work we ourselves discover innovative solutions, we apply them and share them with our colleagues.