01Oct

Doctors in Tartu: options and where to find them – Emma (The Netherlands)

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” – said no doctor ever, so please contact one when apples can’t help you.

Our health seems to be all we talk about nowadays. And for a good reason – it is hard to escape or ignore the effects the outbreak of COVID-19 has on both our physical and mental health. In these times, it is even more important to know where to go when you need a doctor. Even if you do not need one at the moment, you might wonder – how do I register with a family physician? Who do I contact when I get sick? Who can I reach out to talk about my mental health? This blog post provides several courses of action you can take, as well as information on who to reach out to.

PHYSICAL HEALTH

Register with a family doctor

One of the first important things to do when moving to Tartu is to register with a family physician (perearst). This is not only so you can contact them when you would like an appointment, but also in order to get a referral for a (free) COVID-19 test in case you develop symptoms. When searching for a doctor, it is important to check whether the doctor’s office has a family physician; whether they are a public or private office – as they might have different prices – and whether they speak English (in case you do not speak Estonian/Russian).

Then how do you register yourself? Depending on the office, an application form can be submitted in person and/or online, preferably when you are in good health and have already received your personal ID-code.

Who should I register with? The English-speaking doctors recommended by International House Tartu are the following:

  • Ruth Kalda, ask the clinic about availability; phone +372 7319 268 or + 372 58058016 or write to ylikooli.perearst@gmail.com
  • Tiiu Tootsi, info@perearsttiiutootsi.ee, phone +372 7455 187
  • Kertu Rünkorg, perearst.runkorg@gmail.com, phone +372 588 65560
  • Margot Tamm, perearst.margot@gmail.com, phone +372 742 1769, +372 5620 8064.

Be aware that when contacting a doctor, they might not be able to get you an appointment without pre-registration, their registration list might be full, and that it is possible that you might not find a common language to speak in.

In order to speak to an English/Russian speaking health care consultant, who might be able to refer you to a family doctor, you can reach out to Andrei Petuhhov at Andrei.Petuhhov@terviseamet.ee or +372 794 3572.

The International House Tartu (info@internationalhouse.ee) can also be contacted as they help foreigners with issues as registering for a doctor.

Other useful links:

COVID-19 test

If you do not have symptoms, but you want or need to get tested for coronavirus, an appointment can be made for a (paid) test through Synlab.

If you do have symptoms, or you have been in contact with someone who tested positive, you should reach out to a family physician.

If you already have a family physician, you should reach out to them asap. If they consider your symptoms to be resembling those of coronavirus, you will most likely get an official referral – NB! this can only be done by a family physician specifically. After this, the testing center will reach out to you about your appointment to do the test. It is very important to pick up the phone, as they only call you once. Usually, the doctor will tell you it will happen within one day, but this is not always the case. If you get tested with your doctor’s referral, you will not have to pay for the test. However, if you have a private doctor, they might not refer you to the public testing center.

If you are not registered with a family physician, you should still be able to get a referral to get tested. This ERR article lists that – despite the misleading title – you still need a referral for a free test from a family doctor, but not necessarily your family doctor, meaning that it is now easier to get a referral without being registered at that doctor’s office. Even though you can apply for the paid test at Synlab, public testing when you have symptoms is a quicker, and cost-free process. It is recommended to reach out to the abovementioned doctors, Dr. Kalda and Dr. Tootsi, or to the consult Andrei Petuhhov. Though the website is in Estonian, foreign students have also managed to get a doctor’s referral without pre-registration by contacting the Tasku Medical Center (Tasku Meditsiini Keskus)

Update! you can now also book a test online when you have a referral: https://news.err.ee/1141224/coronavirus-tests-can-now-be-booked-online

Useful links:

The HOIA app is recommended to everyone living in Estonia, which allows you to get notifications if you have possibly been in close contact with someone that has COVID-19. You can download the application and find more information here: https://hoia.me/en/

Hospital & Emergencies

The Tartu University Hospital (Tartu Ülikooli Kliinikum) is open 24/7. For appointments, you can call  +372 7319100 and the number for general hospital information is +372 371 8111. The hospital is located at L. Puusepa 1a (emergency room at nr. 8). For emergencies, please call the EU emergency number 112. 

Specialist doctors

Usually, you can see a specialist after your family physician has referred you to one. Sometimes simply a phone call with your doctor can be enough for a referral. A referral is not necessary for visiting the psychiatrist, dermatologist, gynecologist, dentist, or eye specialist.

You can contact each of these health care providers directly, or reach out the University Hospital for psychiatric, dermatological, and ophthalmologist help in case of an emergency

Insurance

Whether and which health insurance you should get, depends on your residence permit and current insurance. More information is provided by the University and can be found here: https://www.ut.ee/en/welcome/health-insurance-0  and https://www.haigekassa.ee/en/people/health-insurance

Photo by Emma Simpson on Unsplash

MENTAL HEALTH

It is crucial not to neglect your mental health, especially during these unpredictable times. Since the state of our mental health is less obvious to the outside world, it is important to talk about the obstacles that might be keeping us from having a peaceful mind. From issues that might seem minor – worries about studies or the future – to more severe issues such as depression, it is important to emphasize that these struggles are human and there are people here to help.

Lifeline

If you are afraid that you, or someone in your close environment, might resort to self-harm, please contact the Lifeline services as soon as possible. Emotional support line: +372 655 8088 (for Russian: +372 655 5688). They also offer services to victims of violence or trafficking. Assistance to foreign women in Estonia: 15333. For more information and hotlines, see: https://www.eluliin.ee/en

UT Counselling Center

It is important to reach out when we are having mental struggles, even when they do not include thoughts of self-harm. Seeking help can be a big step, yet the earlier we reach out – even for an issue we only consider to be minor – the better. Sometimes we have to ask ourselves: what do we have to lose?

The Counselling Center of the University of Tartu is located in the University library, and offers advice to its students, from career to psychological counseling. You can reach out to the university’s psychologists for any advice or help you might need, for example, related to study motivation, stress and anxiety, relationships, self-esteem, processing difficult experiences, and more.

In case you are not certain about seeing a counselor, you can always email them and schedule an appointment to assess whether you like it or not, while keeping in mind that there might be a waiting list. The Counselling Center offers counseling to its students without any costs and in English as well.

Though there is no information available in English, you can reach out to the Youth Counselling Center to speak about issues related to sexuality. Speaking to a Sex Counselor is free of charge for people who are 26 and younger. More information (in Estonian): https://www.tstk.ee/sisu-seksuaalnoustaja-vastuvott

In the end, we hope that all of you will remain healthy and seek help when needed! Please reach out to the International Student Ambassadors for any questions you might have – also not related to health –  about your stay in Tartu.

Photo by Aleksandr Ledogorov on Unsplash