We went there on a recommendation, from a well meaning expatriate mother, as our kid needed a circumcision operation (brit milah). As this mother rightly told us, a recommended doctor or surgeon, is far safer and better, than a recommended clinic. This operation was required for medical reasons, rather than for any religious reason and so it had to be urgently done. It is best to do this operation while a child is still young and we were advised to do it by a Urologist at the Russian clinic, where we usually go (see best posts). This clinic is cheap (for Moscow), clean and modern but they cannot do this operation and they can't cope with anything more complex than the standard sick complaints that we all suffer from. We had the choice of going to the AMC or to the EMC (European Medical Center). We were recommend a Russian guy, that can do these operations and who visits the AMC as a freelance willy man. We could have gone cash only, at some unknown place but a child's willy, is a valuable thing, not to let lose on an unknown butcher. It's better sort this kind of thing out now, rather than have embarrassing moments, with a first girlfriend, in the back of a car, at some future date.
As a public service, I wish to share the experience with you, in case you are thinking of using a private clinic here in Moscow, for yourself or for your children. We could have gone to the EMC, but I we had heard very negatives experiences about this private medical center, so opted to try the AMC. This clinic is not far from the metro station "Prospect Mira". I don't know why it's called the American Medical Center? I could not see, or surprisingly hear any Americans. The same can be said for the Europe Medical Center, does it contain any actual Europeans?. I suppose, these names, may sound more attractive to the foreigner or at least that's what the Russians think. The word "European" or "American" in their minds, carries a standard of quality, even if they cannot provide it as it should be provided, as I will explain below.
We went with my kid, to the American Medical Center this week. When we arrived, there were three bored but pretty looking Russian girls sitting behind the reception desk. One spoke good English and asked me, to fill in a form. Once I had done this, we went into the children's section and waited on chairs, next to a plastic kids play house to be seen by our willy man. We waited and waited, past our agreed time to be seen. After an hour of waiting, our recommended man ("Professor") came in. He was not as I expected, he was not wearing a white coat and looked as if he had just driven from his dacha. He looked in his early sixties and wore thick glasses, we were told he was a "professor" although this means absolutely nothing in Russia, as anything, from a driving license to a professional title, can easily be paid for. He did not speak English or wear rubber gloves. I explained to him, that my kid had been recommended to have a circumcision operation and showed him the doctors report from the other Russian clinic. We got a reception girl to translate our conversation. After five minutes, the guy, said he could do it next week, got up and was going to leave, I asked him "aren't you going to look at my boy" he looked annoyed and without rubber gloves, examined my boys willy, said nothing and left the room.
I asked the nurse if I could go into the operating room with my kid, she looked confused and disappeared to find out. We waited. At 4 pm, the nurse told us to follow her and I carried my kid to the lift and we went down to the operating room area. Another nurse took him and I was asked to dress in paper trousers, a plastic hat, mask and gloves. I went into the operating room, my son was lying on the table wearing his gown and plastic hat. He was very afraid. The operating room was very modern and I felt a lot less nervous. I held his hand and the anesthetist gave him the gas, he was asleep, within two minutes and I was asked to leave. I went back to the room and waited for an eternity. I read on the Internet that circumcision is an easy operation, that takes only about fifteen to twenty minutes to do. After 45 minutes they wheeled our boy, back to the room, he was awake and screaming on the table. He was in a lot of pain. This went screaming went on for about forty minutes and I held him as he cried. I asked the nurse for pain killer and something to help him relax and one for me, she did not understand my wit and left the room. We waited and waited for another forty minutes or so, then the anesthetist arrived and the nurse gave him an injection, it took 30 minutes to take effect and after that my boy was spaced out, drugged and silent with a very red bleeding willy.
7 pm came and food arrived. It looked good and was good, although it was served cold. The tray had soup, bread rolls, orange juice, salmon with mashed potato and a yogurt. We fed our kid the soup, which he then promptly vomited up. So I ate his food and cleaned his bed. Once this was done, we then spent an hour trying get them to them to stamp our insurance forms. It turned out, that this clinic is used to being paid directly, by blind, foolish insurance companies and are not used to offering evidence of medical treatment directly to a patient. Once this was done and we had our forms stamped to claim back some of the money, I carried my boy wrapped in a towel, back to the car and we all drove home, totally exhausted.
Would I recommend this clinic? In my opinion, it is clean, modern and comfortable, however what lets it down so badly, is the total lack of customer care, bedside charm ("bedside manner") and friendliness. Bedside charm and a human approach to people, who are sick or who need an operation, are as important as the medical treatment. I have noticed this to be a theme in Russia. This clinic is not cheap and you would think, they would train the staff to behave in a better way towards its high paying customers, their mission statement on the wall of the clinic, is creative marketing. You are just a number another payment to them. We had to ask questions and when we did, they looked annoyed, I had to clear up my sons vomit and the nurse did not even take away the dirty sheet from his bed. This clinic is probably very capable of performing any of its advertised services, however I would not go back, as it lacks a human approach. This is a common problem in Moscow, from healthcare, hotels to eating out. A human approach, is vital where ever you live. The professor (hospital janitor) did the job, I don't know if he did it well, as it's too early to say but I feel pleased and fortunate to have found him via a kind recommendation. As for overall verdict for the American Medical Center, we were not impressed at all by the service and lack of professionalism but the clinic has all the bells and whistles that you would expect from a private clinic.