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The road to rehabilitation

By Capt. Vance White
with files from Lt. Tom Edwards

First published in
SFOR Informerr#127, November 28, 2001

Many people who hear the word "spa" think of a place where wealthy people go to be pampered. Tucked away in the hills on a winding road Northeast of Banja Luka is the site of Slatina Spa, a different type of spa.

Slatina - The Slatina Hospital Annex, otherwise known as the Health Rehabilitation Centre, is the location of a spring of mineral water known for its remedial effects on many medical conditions. The purpose of the spa is not to pamper the rich, but to provide a place where people with different ailments or disabilities can go to receive physical rehabilitation therapy.
Currently, the site is also home to another type of rehabilitation - that is the rehabilitation of one of its buildings. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) approved the site as a "partnership project" as it met the criteria of redeveloping community infrastructure and supporting returnee families in the region. The redevelopment of the spa is a joint effort with the community and CIDA, who is providing funding. The spa also provides specialised healthcare facilities to local citizens regardless of their ethnic background.
"Patients must be referred by doctors, they cannot just pay for use of the spa," said Dr. Durdica Stevanovic-Papic, the director of Slatina Hospital Annex. "Doctors at the Annex re-assess referred patients to confirm the medical requirement for the spa treatment - certain diseases cannot be treated." In this way, the spa is made available to those who have a specific medical need.
The United Kingdom Battle Group project officer, Sgt. Mike Ryan, has carried out SFOR's role of co-ordinating the project. Along with CIDA's contribution of 34,548 KM, local (i.e. The Municipality of Laktasi and Slatina Hospital) donors have contributed about 21,000 KM.
The impact of rehabilitating the building is significant. The work funded by CIDA includes preparing and tiling the walls and floor, installing lighting, connecting the clinic to the nearby mineral water spring, plumbing and installing heating and electrical fittings. The local municipality and hospital management funded other work, including painting interiors and improving or replacing doors, windows, internal fittings, furnishings and the external sewage system.
With the work nearing completion, Dr. Stevanovic-Papic expects 50 new beds to be available in the refurbished building. The new building will allow the hospital to extend their physiotherapy and electrotherapy capabilities. It also brings with it a requirement to hire more staff, adding to the 22 specialist doctors, 52 senior nurses, 44 physiotherapists, and many other staff that include teachers, a social worker and laboratory, x-ray and prosthetic technicians.
The renovations bring an increased capability to the hospital. CIDA has also approved an additional 35,000 KM towards the installation of an independent boiler room for the newly renovated building. Rehabilitation is a slow process, but for both the hospital and the patients, the steps towards progress are getting easier.

Related links: CIMIC
Nations of SFOR: UK