Image Salih Memecan

My childhood memories are of going from one doctor to another and from one institution to the next for the correct diagnosis. During my adulthood I made several trips to both Europe and USA for my daughter Dilek and my son Metin; I saw Medical Centers instead of single hospitals. Years later when I went to Houston to have mitral valve surgery, I examined the Medical Center. I began to question why such centers were non-existent in Turkey. I also became aware that famous hotels like the Hilton and the Marriot at these medical centers were not as expensive as they were at the city centers. As health services are vital, hotels are exempt from taxes, an advantage which makes it possible for the hotels to have rooms as low as 125 to 150 dollars. When patients stay at one of those hotels, they can use the shuttles of both the hotels and the hospitals. They can reach hospitals through underground and/or over ground sky bridges.In the medical center areas and at the hotel lobbies, there are restaurants, pharmacies, hair dressers, travel agencies, and even pubs. All the hospitals, laboratories, and private medical doctor offices–which are mostly outside the hospital–are connected via Internet. The doctors and specialists can easily and immediately access tests results, X-rays, MR and cat-scans. There is also free parking space for the patients and their visitors. Now, think about the patients and visitors who go to hospitals with their private cars in Turkey. I shared my idea of building a medical center like the ones in the USA in Istanbul with Osman Durmus, the Ministry of Health at the time. After the ceremony regarding the donation of 2 million American dollars for the Metin Sabanci Baltalimani Bone Diseases Education and Research Hospital restoration including the construction of new buildings, I had a chance to talk to him about this project. I told him that if enough land were provided, I would get in touch with entrepreneurs and start to build hospitals with the necessary infrastructure such as water, electricity, telephone, internet, natural gas, and sewage. Osman Durmus liked this project. He informed me that the land that was used as auto-fair during the weekends in Kartal-Maltepe, Istanbul could be allocated for this project. From professionals researching about this issue, I was informed that the most modern health center was in Miami, USA. I got in touch with the experts who designed the project. I asked them to prepare drafts for our project in Istanbul. I consulted my friends who could contribute to such a project. They liked my idea. We agreed that I was to be responsible for the construction of the main administrative building in addition to the construction of the infrastructure. We even worked on the administrative principles for quite a while. However, it turned out that some part of the land was owned by the Turkish gendarme Quarter right across Highway E5. I inquired about the possibility of conditional allocation of the land for the project with the Ministries of Internal Affairs, Defense and Health. The project could not be actualized because I couldn’t get the land upon which to build the hospital. A while ago, I read in the newspaper of a project that has been started to build a park on that piece of land. We need the park, too. But we also need a hospital to have healthy people to go to that park. I failed to get an agreement with those people. It is my conviction that those with extremely leftist minds failed to see the change that The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics were experiencing. Because those Maoist and Stalinist minds couldn’t see what Gorbachev wanted to do. They also played huge parts in the projects that I couldn’t pursue. Because of them, 70 million citizens of this country have lost a lot of opportunities. They couldn’t grasp the significance of privatization and the philosophy of establish-manage-pass on. They didn’t also learn from the example of the Ataturk Airport, one of the best airports in Europe, which was built at no cost. The Dardanelles Strait, the Izmit Bay passage, and Bosphorus Tube projects are still on hold because of such people. Suleyman Demirel underlined this in the speech during the Ataturk Airport opening day ceremony. Very sarcastically, Demirel said that there must be someone to be blamed for the 5 year delay in the actualization of the project. People with such mind sets oppose foreign investment as well. They have odd reasons for their opposition. They say foreign investment devastated Germany. I have something to say to those who cannot see that it was foreign investment that helped the devastated Germany of 1945 become stronger again: I wish foreign investment can also devastate our country. Maybe our currency will gain more value. Maybe you will say “Sabanci, what is the worry! Let your money stay in your pocket.” The problem is that I cannot let such matters go. This is what I learned from my mother and my father. I grew up seeing the happiness in the eyes of my parents while giving out oil, fabric, and money in the village once they were poor enough to accept alms. No money can buy the peace that I feel in the thankful expressions on the faces of patients at the Metin Sabanci Baltalimani Bone Diseases Education and Research Hospital. If I could get the permission and could build other hospitals, it would be more blessings.