MUSC and Mostar: Building a Clinic Without Walls



Carol Wagner, a neonatologist at MUSC and I visited Mostar Bosnia as a step toward responding to an NIH request for proposals to establish a Global Network for Women's and Children’s Health Research.  We selected Mostar because a number of physicians from Mostar has visited MUSC’s Ob/Gyn and Pediatrics departments in order to explore strategies for perinatal management.  We left Charleston for Zurich and then on to Sarajevo.  I had with me my handy-dandy GPS (which we used to calibrate the SwissAir navigation) and here you can see our path from Sarajevo to Mostar and then on to Chitluk:




Driving from Sarajevo (below left) to Mostar took us along the beautiful Neretva river of green water, through small villages and beautiful countryside.  That military hostilities had recently taken place was not really evident (except in Sarajevo) until we approached Mostar.





We traveled south along highway 17 and as we entered Mostar, we found the juxtaposition of ‘war’ and peace was not describable with words.  So here are photos that tell the story much better than either of us could tell it.  There is one essential feature of Mostar to grasp:  the river, Neretva, flows through the city – and to the right (west) are Catholics and Orthodox while on the left (east) are Muslems.  There was a bridge built between 1557 until 1566 that was completely destroyed during the war – but here is a photo before the war and then a photo from our visit – you can easily compare the windows on the right:



Now, one sees the river and its emerald water, but no ancient bridge – only new bridges either under construction or recently completed.



Superficially, the city looks ‘ok’ -  for example, below is the front of our hotel (front) – but looking out the back window




and street scenes, if you look in the right direction, all is ‘normal’




But always, juxtaposed to ‘normal’ was massive destruction




  We visited the hospital and met our ‘Team’ of folks, all with unbridled optimism (see Carol in the middle)




We explored their ‘Tools’ and found a new life



and another new life and time for tea and cakes




Truly a happy family



But behind the hospital, there were all the remains of that terrible war




We visited new colleagues at the University of Mostar:  Prof. Vladimir Simunovic and Stefi Dodig (talking with Dara and Carol)




Finally, a temporary goodbye from our friends



and a promise that our story will continue

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Copyright 2000 C. Frank Starmer and Carol Wagner