Prof. Dr. Nikolay Dimitrov: The new “Swiss” hospital in Burgas opened its doors. Coming soon in Sofia

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‘Heart and Brain’ Burgas is the newest high-tech hospital of the Bulgarian Cardiac Institute (BCI) – the national leader in lifesaving, part of which are also the multi-profile hospital ‘Heart and Brain’ in Pleven, 5 specialized cardiac hospitals in Varna, Yambol, Pleven, Shumen, Veliko Tarnovo and 15 medical centers throughout the country. Over 2.3 million patients have been diagnosed and treated at BCI since 2007. Long-standing collaborations have been established with leading medical research centres in Europe and the United States. spoke with Prof. Dr. NIKOLAI DIMITROV, Medical Director of the new hospital in Burgas:

 – Prof. Dimitrov, recently the new modern hospital ‘Heart and Brain’ in Burgas was opened. Why is there a need for another hospital?
– Because there is a need to elevate the quality of healthcare and to provide access to innovative and previously missing healthcare technologies for the treatment of socially significant diseases such as interventional treatment of ischemic strokes and brain aneurysms, highly effective robotic surgery (including the latest generation Da Vinci robot), minimally invasive cardiac surgery, electrophysiology and cardiac pacing. The Heart and Brain Hospital started operating in Burgas two years ago in a small and gloomy building, but during this period it has established itself as the preferred choice of doctors and patients in the region – with over 1300 heart operations performed. Since November 2021, the hospital has been housed in a new building of its own, built in just a year and a half – an ultra-modern facility equipped with top-of-the-range equipment, enabling our specialists to take a multidisciplinary approach to finding the optimal treatment for patients suffering from a variety of chronic and acute conditions, especially those with multimorbidity.

The traditional cooperation with world leading university hospitals and, of course, the experience gained at ‘Heart and Brain’ Pleven are invaluable for the good results of our doctors and synchronized teams. The main difference is that in Burgas we do not have the unique for the Balkans and Eastern Europe Gamma Knife for bloodless removal of tumors in the brain, which has been used for a year now by the famous clinic of Dr. Rumen Lazarov in Pleven for the benefit of patients from all over the country and abroad.

Extremely valuable for the patients in acute need of specialized and life-saving care in the region of Southeast Bulgaria is the helipad at the hospital, which we are building in cooperation with the municipality of Burgas and the regional administration. It will be a part of the national Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) system that has been desperately needed for decades. More importantly, ‘Heart and Brain’ Burgas has many qualified doctors from several European countries, nurses and medical staff and has the most modern cardiac and neurosurgical facilities in the region.

– We found out that ‘Heart and Brain’ Burgas is known as the “Swiss” hospital in the city. How do you explain this?
– There is not simply by chance. Switzerland is a symbol of prosperity and high quality of life, and Burgas is the city of prosperity, now we will elevate the quality. The new state-of-the-art ‘Heart and Brain’ has opened its doors to elevate the health status and quality of life in the most populous area in the country to the level of Germany and the Netherlands, where patient satisfaction is over 90%. Interestingly, the chief architect of the new clinical complex was born in Burgas, now living in Switzerland. This year, the 32-member jury of the National Competition “Building of the Year 2021” chaired by Arch. Violeta Komitova, Minister of Regional Development and Public Works, awarded the hospital with the first place prize in the category “Social Infrastructure and Special Purpose Buildings – Healthcare Buildings”.

It is also true that we are striving even beyond the popular ‘Swiss’ stigma, to turn ‘Heart and Brain’ in Burgas into a national and European centre of leading medical scientific and practical achievements. It will be home to, at various times, renowned physicians from Zurich, Bern and Geneva, Munich, Milan, Prague and Paris, in all 12 major clinical specialties, including thoracic and vascular surgery, imaging, urology, gastroenterology, orthopaedics and traumatology. As early as January 2022, we expect the first team of leading Czech and French cardiologists and cardiac surgeons to work permanently side by side with Bulgarian specialists in Burgas. Because BCI, the research center of ‘Heart and Brain’, led by a young and talented Bulgarian professor, has a long-standing cooperation and exchange with the world leader in cardiology, cardiac surgery and heart and lung transplantation ‘Cleveland Clinic’ from the United States, we are planning training of Bulgarian doctors in Burgas by world-renowned American professionals.

– How is your hospital different from the others?
– In almost everything and with everything. First, I would say that competent private initiative is a natural engine of progress – always working faster and more modern than the state machine. Heart and Brain in Burgas combines and applies the knowledge and experience, successful practices and research work accumulated abroad, in the country and especially in the very successful hospital in Pleven. We are truly bearers of the new, because we integrate the most advanced scientific achievements into our daily work and constantly develop our young postgraduate students, PhD students and leading doctors. We work with dedication, provide a path for development, ensure specializations abroad and decent pay for medical and medical work, stimulate doctors to improve themselves daily and prove what they are capable of. The thousands of healed patients who have expressed their satisfaction with the care and assistance they have received are the most valuable proof that we are implementing reform in Bulgaria. And for us, patients always comes first!

– Are you planning to introduce such “health forts” in other areas of the country?
– Bulgarian patients suffer chronically from the lack of real reforms in the most important sector of social and economic life – healthcare. We continue to be the sickest, poorest and shortest-living nation in Europe despite the millions of leva of public resources sunk into the large state and especially Sofia hospitals. Quite rightly, patients are insecure and dissatisfied.

Against this background, the class “A” investor Commercial League and BCI are planning the construction of a truly modern, multi-specialty hospital on the territory of the city. Sofia, Eastern arc (Kazichene). The goal is clear – smart and efficient investments in hospital care, early diagnosis and life-saving interventions. Traditionally, for years we have worked in close expert cooperation with leading medical centers from the USA and Europe. We plan to specialize in heart and lung transplants together with professors from Cleveland Clinic through specializations and experience exchange. Of course, the complex will have its own helipad for HEMS.

It is time for the capital to experience the new high-tech and highly competitive healthcare. It is time to have a big “Swiss” hospital in Sofia. We know how to implement the reform in the service of patients and Bulgarian families.

The full article is available here in Bulgarian.

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