AMSURG Center Hosts Three Dignitaries from the Albanian Health Fund

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Three dignitaries from Albania, Professor Xheladin Dracini, Ambassador Ahmet Shala and Vasil Naci, visited AMSURG’s Lancaster Gastroenterology Procedure Center in February. They knew AMSURG partner Mark Johnston, M.D., through his work with theAlbanian Health Fund (AHF).    Professor Xheladin Dracini is the Vice Dean of the Medical University in Tirana, Albania. This is the only medical school in Albania. He came to observe the endoscopy units at Lancaster Gastroenterology Procedure center, as well as units at the regional medical centers, Lancaster General Hospital and Lancaster Regional Medical Center to learn the principles of running a unit and how he might better implement principles of quality and efficiency as exhibited in these units. “He has been very impressed by our ADR data, efficiency and camaraderie among staff in running the unit,” said Johnston.    Ambassador Ahmet Shala is the former minister of economics and current ambassador from Kosovo to Japan. Vasil Naci is an entrepreneur and one of the wealthiest businessmen in Albania.   Ambassador Shala and Vasil Naci came to the United States to participate in the National Prayer Breakfast as a guest of President Obama. Naci knew Johnston from his work in Albania and as former chief of gastroenterology at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and requested for Johnston to give him an endoscopy. Ambassador Shala was also having gastrointestinal issues, and Johnston ended up performing an endoscopy on him as well.   The Albanian Health Fund is a group of doctors and dentists from across the U.S. that have been serving in Albania since the “Iron Curtain” came down in 1991. Johnston began his work with AHF in 1993 and is a board member and former president of the organization.   “My role as a gastroenterologist and AHF board member is coordinating our service to Albania,” Johnston said. “We were a part of introducing therapeutic endoscopy to Albania. Through a grant from Olympus Corporation, we supervised the construction and implementation of the first endoscopy unit. I introduced and did the first ERCP in Albania and taught endoscopic treatment of peptic ulcer disease, reducing gastric surgery by 75 percent in one year after teaching one surgeon therapeutic endoscopy. Bleeding peptic ulcer disease is now treated with EGD and not surgery.”