While in Latvia medics are fighting for healthcare financing, with many leaving or thinking of leaving the country to work abroad, there are also examples of doctors choosing to return to Latvia. Meldere is one of those doctors, and now she has a family practice in in a small house at the Baltic seaside in her native Kurzeme.
Walking into Meldere's practice is unexpectedly cosy for a medical establishment. Everything is arranged according to the German model, from the mobility challenged-friendly width of the doors to the windows connecting the toilets to the laboratory. “It's unhygienic for patients to walk around the whole practice with a urine sample, or worse – drive around from Roja to Talsi,” explains Meldere.
Meldre left Latvia because Germany offered better education and longer residency opportunities, as well as quality practical skills. But even then she knew she would return. And she brought with her not only a western european mindset, but also practical skills, such as express tests.
“For example, if a patient comes to me with chest pain, I can understand within five minutes if it's a myocardial infarction, because I have both troponin I and troponin T tests,” explains Meldere.
“An in Germany these tests have truly help diagnose a myocardial infarction at least five times,” continues the doctor. In September Meldere took on 1216 patients at her practice, and is currently treating around 1500 people. She gets patients from Talsi, Kuldīga, Jūrmala and Rīga.
Meldere has also joined the protests in solidarity with her colleagues in the beginning of November. Working in a small town, she's experience difficulty finding qualified nurses. However when deciding to return to Latvia the medical situation was secondary, the main thing was for her family to be together.
“The salary difference between Latvia and Germany varies drastically, but it all depends on what's important to you,” says Meldere.
Māra Meldere isn't the only doctor to return to Latvia, however there are no statistics in this area. Specialists agree that the cases are pretty rare.