Way back in 1364, the much venerated King Casimir III (the man also responsible for Krakow’s iconic Wawel Castle), founded the Jagiellonian University Medical College in Krakow, now rated as Poland’s finest medical academy and the most coveted school for all prospective doctors in the country. Today, not only is this centuries old institution the training ground for Poland’s medical elite, but it’s the also home to the country’s largest healthcare institution. Housed on the sprawling campus grounds off Mikołaja Kopernika on the east side of the city, the Krakow University Hospital is certainly the city’s largest, and indeed, one of its most accessible.
In fact, the Jagiellonian University medical faculty is responsible for several healthcare divisions throughout Krakow. The Children’s University Hospital, on the southeast of the city near the town of Wieliczka, was built in the late 20th century, with joint funding from Polish and American medical institutions. Since its inception, the children’s university has been a great success, and now treats more than 28,000 patients from the Małopolska region in southern Poland.
In 1997 the Jagiellonian University also annexed the Orthopaedic University Hospital in Zakopane. This beautiful, white and red brick building, nestled in the forests of the low Tatras to Krakow’s south, has risen to become Poland’s finest orthopaedic treatment centre. What’s more, in addition to the various medical divisions like this, controlled by the Jagiellonian University in and around Krakow, the institution also presides over a substantial dental school in the city.
Just as in the UK, in Krakow, all hospital emergency wards have an obligation to care to any patient that requires treatment imminently. For EU visitors, it is wise to apply for the EHIC card before arrival, as this will ensure any treatment received is free. Krakow has a number of hospitals that operate 24 hour emergency departments, the largest (and busiest) of which are the Ludwika Rydygiera Hospital, Stefana Zeromskiego Hospital (in Nowa Huta), and the Gabriela Narutowicza Hospital, of which the latter is by far the closest to the city centre.
Private Doctor Surgeries can be found easily by checking local directories, and they are dotted around the city in great number. Usually the standard fee for GP consultancy in 100 PLN, and prescriptions are not free in Poland, so you will need to pay extra at the pharmacy when you arrive.
Pharmacies are very common across the city, and there are more than 200 in the Old Town area alone. Many of these are open 24 hours, like the Apteka on Ulica Karmelicka, which is within easy walking distance from the main square. Prices can vary between different pharmacies, so if you’re not in a hurry, it may be worth you doing some shopping around. If in doubt, the outlets in Galeria Krakowska, the city’s central shopping complex, are always safe options.
Generally speaking, Krakow has a very well developed medical industry, and is home to a host of hospitals and specialist healthcare facilities. The Jagiellonian University, as with many things in the city, is the backbone of the medical institutions here, and continues to win awards and accolades for its high quality healthcare and medical research.