I went to the dentist for a minor procedure on Tuesday and, as you can see, his office looked a lot like a modern dental office you might find in America.
Dr. Vlad Drugalin provided excellent care, speaking English with me, Russian with his assistant and Romanian when the three of us chatted together. I felt in good hands from the moment I entered his office, located in the building shown below.
But then again, I’ve felt in good hands medically with Peace Corps Moldova since we arrived here. The chief medical officer, Dr. Iuliana, is a jewel: skillful, thorough, caring and endlessly dedicated to keeping volunteers heathy. She pays attention to everyone’s mental health as well as their physical condition, knowing how stressful Peace Corps service can sometimes be.
I also think highly of her colleague, Dr. Diana, and their new assistant Tatiana. The three of them are a great team, working in coordination with but somewhat separate from the rest of Peace Corps Moldova. All of our medical interactions are confidential.
We get our medical care for free here, with no monthly premiums or other costs. During our pre-service training, the medical team ran workshops on everything from water purification to traffic safety. When we moved to our posts, they gave us water filters and well-stocked medical kits. They continue to fill prescriptions, address concerns and provide routine services in a clinic within the Peace Corps building. When necessary, they send volunteers to local specialists such as Dr. Drugalin or, occasionally, back home or elsewhere for treatment, coordinating with the Peace Corps medical office in Washington.
Champa and I have enjoyed good health here. We both fell on the ice a few weeks ago but, fortunately, didn’t break anything. We’ve had a few colds and stomach issues, but never had to stay overnight in Dr. Iuliana’s “TDY.” When I think back to my experience as a young Peace Corps Volunteer in Nepal, when I had pneumonia twice and parasitic infections repeatedly, I know how lucky we’ve been.
We were in good shape when we applied to become volunteers, although that didn’t stop the Washington medical office from putting us through the wringer before clearing us for service. We had to submit form after form, with documentation, over several months before we were finally approved. I understood why the medical office was so cautious, especially with two older applicants, but the process was exhausting.
To be sure, Peace Corps confronts many medical challenges with its volunteers around the world, everything from sore throats to giardiasis, malaria or sexual assault. When I was in the Peace Corps medical office on Tuesday, picking up forms to bring with me to the dentist, I saw the poster shown here.
Champa and I have managed to avoid all of the dangers highlighted on the poster, at least so far. However, we still have four months to go. Fingers crossed. Sănătate.
[Postscript: The day after I posted this,