Tartu University Hospital (Tartu Ülikooli Kliinikum) is looking for larger premises in Tallinn in order to expand its operations in the Estonian capital.
Although it bears the name of the University of Tartu, Tartu University Hospital also treats patients in Tallinn, Narva and Pärnu. In Tallinn, the hospital provides personalized medicine and genetics services. It also specializes in men's health issues as well as sports medicine and rehabilitation. Priit Perens, chair of the hospital's management board said, that as demand for its services has increased, they are now looking for larger premises in Tallinn.
"We are a university hospital, and as a result have specialties that other hospitals in Tallinn do not directly offer on their own. Above all, in Tallinn we are talking about personalized medicine. That is genetics, which also includes dealing with rare conditions," Perens explained. "In addition to this, there are andrologists who deal with men's health issues. And, particularly when it comes to genetics, we work closely with other hospitals in Tallinn."
According to Perens, Tartu University Hospital does not aim to compete with Tallinn's other hospitals, but instead brings its own expertise to the capital in areas, where specialists may otherwise be unavailable.
Agris Peedu, head of the North Estonia Medical Center (PERH) explained for instance, that Tartu University Hospital has been supplying the capital with doctors specializing in male health issues and genetics for decades.
Peedu added, that the volume of oncology patients is so high at PERH, that the only option is to pay the University of Tartu Hospital for its genetics services. However, of equal, if not greater concern to Peedu, is the shortage of available staff.
"In the Tallinn region, we have a shortage of certain types of specialist doctors at the moment. If there are any private clinics here, a private clinic expands its capacity, or perhaps the University of Tartu Hospital increases its operations here in Tallinn, the question will be: 'with what kind of staff?'," Peedu said.
However, the problem of doctor shortages in Tallinn can be traced back to the type of medical training undertaken during residency. Peedu highlighted, that for some specializations, a high number of medical professionals move to Tallinn after completing their residencies.
However, the situation is more difficult when it comes to those specializations, for which residencies can currently only be completed in Tartu.
"If a doctor-resident does most of their residency or residency cycles in Tartu, the during these years (it is likely that) they will have (also) found a partner, got married, had children, booked kindergarten places, reserved spots at school places, found a place to live, bought a house (and so on)," Peedu said.
"It is then very difficult to assume that, at the end of their residency, when they obtain the status of a specialist, they, along with their family, will make the move to Tallinn or another region of Estonia," Peedu said.
Asked if the University of Tartu Hospital has also seen an increase in patients of other nationalities in recent times, Perens said, that this has been the case, particularly when it comes to visitors to the hospital's website.
Currently, around two percent of patients at the Tartu University Hospital are non-Estonians.
"Our medicine is quite Estonia-centric. Although, just a moment ago, we looked at the number of visits to our website, and to our surprise we discovered that our Russian-language site accounts nine percent of all visits from outside Estonia," Perens said.
Editor: Michael Cole