Orthodox Thought for the Day


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A hospital without an ambulance?

A message from Fr. Nektarios Serfes, President of the Decani Monastery Relief Fund…

My brothers & sisters in Christ,

Have you ever needed to summon an ambulance? Most people feel blessed if they’ve never had to. But, life oftentimes requires that we become involved in emergencies. 

Have you ever ridden with someone in an ambulance? Have you ever been taken as a patient in an ambulance? It can be a scary ride, but also a comforting one, in the presence of trained paramedics with life-saving instruments at hand that sustain life in an emergency. 

Most of us believe that if we need an ambulance, we go right to the phone.  Dial 9-1-1 and the dispatcher on the other end will send one right away. It is something we expect will be at our disposal whenever needed. We make the call, do our best to comfort the person in distress, and count the seconds until the life-saving vehicle arrives with its trained personnel. It cannot happen fast enough for us. Our hearts race as we wait.

But, what if there is no ambulance available? In many countries, a taxi or someone’s car or truck has to do in an emergency. A person in crisis may not have life support much less comfort or room for anyone to ride along. And neither can a personal vehicle perform well in an emergency—there’s no warning siren, emergency lights or other markings that cause other vehicles to “step aside,” and let it pass. An ambulance is a necessity and one we seldom think of, unless we find ourselves in an emergency.

You may wonder—why have I painted this picture for you? Because we have Christian brethren in Kosovo whose hospital in Osojane is without a working ambulance. It even lacks some basic medical supplies.  Can you imagine running a hospital like this?  Would you feel confident relying on it for your health care?  Hospital personnel there are competent. However, equipment and supplies are not. 

Here are some things you should know:  There are three working hospitals in Kosovo at which the Serbian population feels they can be safely treated and cared for.  And not only that, they are the only three hospitals which allow treatment of the Serbian population. These hospitals are located in Lapje Selo, Metohija and Osojane.  The hospitals are modestly equipped, but not fully, such as the medical center in Belgrade. In serious cases, these local hospitals must determine whether to transport a patient to Belgrade, a seven hour drive away.  God willing, the person’s health holds out until they reach destination. Some patients make it, but not all do.

When I visited Osojane hospital last November, I learned about their need for an ambulance. Yes, they’d had one.  However, it was stolen and only recently recovered. Now they now are functioning at sub-par level with a poorly equipped ambulance that is subject to break-downs.

Recently an elderly woman in Osojane needed to be transported by ambulance to the local hospital. On this short trip, the vehicle broke down more than once due to mechanical problems. Mercifully, the woman did arrive at the hospital, received care and eventually went home in better health. But if the ambulance suffers breakdowns on a short trip, how can it be expected to make it all the way to Belgrade? 

I gave my word to the people there that I would try to help them obtain a new, fully equipped ambulance as a life-saving option.  The fathers of the Decani Monastery have sourced a proper ambulance in Germany. It will be fully outfitted, suited for the needs of the Osojane hospital. The price is USD 23,000. For some readers, this would be the cost of a second, modest car here in the United States. Perhaps someone reading would like to say, “My second car is an ambulance!” Indeed--what a blessing that would be! 

However, if one person cannot afford to buy an ambulance, a group of people could. It is not so hard when many people moved by the grace of God chip in with a single mind. I have seen God do great things for the suffering Serbs in Kosovo, to the amazement of those who are united to their detriment. Yes, it is possible to accomplish great things—with prayer, single-mindedness and above all, love. See photo of the proposed new ambulance below:


May I share one more thing with you? Lapje Selo’s hospital is a modest, active hospital. It offers 40 beds and sees approximately 130-150 cases daily. It not only treats the Serbian population, but the Albanian one as well. Fr. Isaiah of the Decani Monastery recently met with the hospital administrator who revealed the hospital’s needs for basic tools and supplies. Here is a list:

·       Regents for lab analysis of blood

·       Spirometer

·       DCG device

·       Basic medical supplies

·       Extra linens

·       New mattresses & pillows for 40 beds

·       Chairs for patients & physicians

·       10 computers (minimum) to help track patients’ records, progress, etc.

Yes, it is difficult to imagine medical care in our present day without basic supplies and equipment.  But these are current conditions in Kosovo. 

Fr. Isaiah and the hospital administrator in Lapje Selo 

Those with an active conscience and a God-loving heart will find it hard to turn away from these pressing needs. These are our brethren in Christ—people who need to look outside of their country to meet basic, medical concerns.   

Let me go back to the beginning—if you’ve undergone an emergency where an ambulance and paramedics came to your aid—do you remember how relieved and grateful you felt? Have you ever had a desire to somehow pay it forward—to help someone else whose life might be in the balance some day? Well, here’s your opportunity to help save or preserve someone’s life—it is no small thing! 

If you have a heart to provide emergency medical equipment and supplies for those in Kosovo, be sure that God will bless and reward you. As stewards of His bounty, you have the power to release His resources to effect good in the world. In this case, you can release good and blessing to those in Kosovo. It is up to you.   

God love and bless you! Let me now ask…will you help us buy a life-saving ambulance and medical supplies for Kosovo? If so, God reward you!  Please send a check of any amount payable to:  Decani Monastery Relief Fund and mail to:

c/o Very Rev. Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes
2618 West Bannock Street
Boise, Idaho 83702 

The Decani Monastery Relief Fund also accepts donations via credit cards or Paypal. Please visit our web site http://www.thedecanifund.org/ and use the “donate” button near the top of the page.  The Decani Fund is a 501c3 tax exempt charity.

Thank you, beloved brethren!

+Fr. Nektarios Serfes
President, Decani Monastery Relief Fund

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