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Last year while attending the folk festival in Liptovska Teplicka I met a very pleasant English-speaking gentleman. We sat next to each other in the first reserved seating only row and while I was taking pictures and taping the performances we had a little talk. He introduced himself as the director of the above-mentioned sanatorium Doc. MUDr. Vladimir Pohanka, CSc., MPH, FCCP and invited me to come and visit him at the sanatorium. As my days of traveling through Slovakia are planned well in advance I had no time to make this extra trip, but I promised myself to make sure that I have time to visit him this summer. This year at the festival we met again right at the welcoming reception with the sponsors and the mayor Jozef Mezovsky. I made arrangements to visit him on Monday right after the festival.

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First I will tell you a little about the history. A teacher Josef Bohus from Kezmarok founded Tatra's spa village of Dolny Smokovec in 1881 by building a cottage for poor students. Later on with the help of Kezmarok Bank they built more buildings with the idea to have a spa for summer recreation and therapeuticall stay of Austro-Hungarian nobility. Dolny Smokovec became famous wide and far away and the guests included Serbian king Milan, Hungarian countess Izabela and count Fridrich. After 1916 there was a re-convalescent center for wounded soldiers and later on they started to treat the soldiers also for tuberculosis. In 1919 the spa community came under the state health system. January 25, 1920 under President Masaryk league of fighting tuberculosis it became sanatorium for children.

Because of unacceptable conditions for providing health care of the old spa in 1928 they started to build new complex wit the capacity of 900 beds. In 1932 they finished two wings with capacity of 120 beds and over time they built total of 260 beds capacity. Today they have 290 beds available for children from 1/2 year to 15 and up to 18 years. Capable staff of 255 treats the children. The average stay for the children is 38 days. The sanatorium specializes in treating respiratory, asthma, and lung problems while using the latest technology available world wide and favorable climatic conditions of southeastern treed slopes of High Tatra Mountains, 960 meters above the sea level. In the area of diagnostics the sanatorium is equipped with the latest technology and well-trained staff capable if needed to treat also other types of problems connected with the main role of the sanatorium.

Right at the main entrance the sanatorium feels clean, modern and fresh. Computers are everywhere. My visit wasn't officially announced and I was taken randomly trough all the departments. I saw the old portions and the new rebuilt ones. I seen the laboratories, the exercise rooms, pool, sauna, whirl pool, respirator rooms, training laboratories, examining rooms, and yes even the boiler room, entirely run by computer and thus very effective, the cinema and the conference center, the park and the tiny wooden Roman Catholic Church from 1891 that survived the old rulers of the country.

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During the summer months, as a part of the therapy the children are sleeping in open-air terraces, this has reduced the usual sicknesses as fever and common colds almost to nothing.

In one laboratory where they test, measure and investigate lung and respiratory functions in children from 5 years on, even I got my lungs tested on German computerized equipment supplied by firm: Erich Jaeger from Wurtzburg, Germany. The diagnosis is that I do have a very slight respiratory problem, however at my age of pushing 50, it is nothing to panic about.


Account for donations to the Sanatorium:

OLUDTARCA-Dolny Smokovec 123-28832-562/0200 VUB POPRAD


Published in the Slovak Heritage Live newsletter Volume 6, No. 4, Winter 1998
Copyright Vladimir Linder 1998 
3804 Yale Street, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada V5C 1P6
The above article and photographs may not be copied, reproduced, republished, or redistributed by any means including electronic, without the express written permission of Vladimir Linder. All rights reserved.