Archpriest Sergiy Filimonov, S. V. Lobodina

Commencement address dedicated to the 20th anniversary of Saint Petersburg Public Organization «Saint Petersburg Orthodox Doctors Society named after St. Luke (Voyno-Yasenetsky)»

Scientific and educational society «Saint Petersburg Orthodox Doctors Society named after St. Luke (Voyno-Yasenetsky)» was founded in February 1999. The internal Charter, goals and objectives of the Society were blessed by the ruling Bishop Metropolitan Vladimir of Saint Petersburg and Ladoga. Saint Petersburg Orthodox Doctors Society (ODS) became the first organization of orthodox doctors in Russia that managed to set out its goals and objectives clearly, as well as to construct a plan of its actions, adopt the Charter and conduct legal registration. The Society was registered as Public Organization on 17th of May in

2000 in the Legal Chamber of Saint Petersburg. ODS is the professional association of doctors of various specialty, who profess Orthodox religion.

The reasons for the establishment of ODS in Saint Petersburg were the decrease of the degree of spirituality and morality of physicians, fragmentation of medical workers, professing the Orthodox religion, often low level of compassion of nursing staff towards people in need of medical care, increase and widespread dissemination of occult paramedic techniques among both doctors and patients.

The main purpose for the Society therefore was the educational Christianization of medical community, the integration of doctors of various specialty in this direction, the analysis and resistance to destructive challenges in medicine, assistance to low-income citizens and vulnerable population groups.

The active and associate members of the Society are Russian and foreign citizens – Christians of Orthodox faith, who has higher medical, pharmacological, biological and psychological education. Admission to the membership takes place once a year on Memorial Day of Archbishop St. Luke on the 11th of June. Doctors solemnly take an oath of Orthodox Christian doctor during the Divine Liturgy, priests bless medical gowns that with their white color symbolize the purity of doctor’s soul and thoughts.

The highest authority of the Society is the general meeting of its members. Its work is directed by the Board in between the meetings.

Membership

The notable feature of the Society is its practical orientation, which is medical and pastoral assistance. The members of the Society work in many city’s leading higher medical schools and hospitals, state and private medical institutions. Currently, the Society consists of 162 people, including
1 academician, 12 doctors and 23 candidates of medical sciences, 57 doctors has the highest and the first categories of qualification, 42 people have more than 10 years of work experience in the specialty, of which 16 – more than 30 years.

Scientific and educational activity

Scientific and educational activity consists of participation in international, all-Russian conferences and congresses, exhibitions, media appearances, conducting training lectures, seminars, diverse publishing activity, running of the ODS plenary meetings.

Plenary sessions are held in Pavlov First Saint Petersburg State Medical University and are open to the public. Only after preliminary approbation of the topic, discussions, also after taking into account critical remarks and spiritual analysis, the Society made a conciliar decision on the issue and brings forward reports for the discussion of medical community at large, as well as for print, television and radio.

Over past 20 years, it was held 138 meetings, during which 289 reports were heard, participation in 109 international, All-Russian conferences and congresses took place, where 264 reports were presented.

In 2005 the Society held the II International Conference «Church and Medicine. Collaboration between the Russian Orthodox Church and the State on health protection of Russian citizens», which was attended by some 500 people from 57 cities of the Russian Federation, Greece, USA, Austria, Italy, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Belarus. It was on the Conference where the question of establishment the International Association of Orthodox Doctors was raised for the first time.

In 2015 Saint Petersburg Orthodox Doctors Society together with Russian Orthodox Doctors Society held the V All-Russian Congress of Russian doctors, which was attended by over 700 people from 95 dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church. One of the major outcomes of the V All-Russian Congress of Russian doctors was the glorification of passion-bearer doctor Evgeniy Sergeevich Botkin as the saint of Russian Orthodox Church on the 3rd of February in 2016.

In 2016-2019 ODS has actively participated in field conferences, as well as performed online in various cities of Russia, such as Tula, Tyumen, Simferopol, Pereslavl – Zalesskiy, Voronezh, Rostov-on-Don, Samara, Yaroslavl, Tver, Smolensk, Archangelsk, Chita, Severodvinsk, Kursk and other cities.

In total, 584 reports were read for 20 years.

Since 2017 with the blessing of Metropolitan Varsonofiy of Saint Petersburg and Ladoga at the Almazov National Medical Research Centre with the support of St. Luke Charitable Foundation, ODS conducts scientific research «Pastoral and spiritual assistance to patients in coma and different vegetative states».

Exhibitions and lecture halls

For 20 years, the Society has taken part in more than 40 All-Russian and diocesan exhibitions that are of missionary, educational and catechetical nature.

Many of the exhibitions’ visitors get the information on the ways of alcoholism, drug addiction, occult damages rehabilitation within the Saint Petersburg diocese. Appointments for medical and other consultations were made, doctors gave public lectures on prevention and treatment of diseases. In 2011 in the Parish of the Sovereign Icon of Mother of God the Subscription «Healthy Family» was created, during which time the doctors of ODS conducted about 50 training lectures and seminars on pressing medical issues.

Publishing

Since 2005 members of the Society have published more than 100 books, monographs, textbooks, guidelines and 19 issues of the journal «Church and Medicine», also the Society’s website was created (www.opvspb.ru), which was upgraded last year. The journal «Church and Medicine» is the official central press organ of Orthodox Doctor Society of Russia and Saint Petersburg, regularly published in Saint Petersburg. Articles on various problems in medical science and practice are published in the journal, as well as biomedical ethics, pastoral service in medical institutions, Sisters of Charity ministry. In 2018 a modern website of the journal was created (www. mag.opvspb.ru), where all the materials are posted and which can be opened on all kinds of devices in the Russian Federation. In 2019 the journal was registered in the national bibliographic database of scientific publications «Russian Science Citation Index» (RSCI).

The Society has an Expertise Office that examines printed materials, websites, documents and letters.

Treatment

Over the past 20 years, more than 55000 requests on medical and social issues from 20 countries (including Italy, Finland, Austria, Armenia, USA, Israel, Latvia, Moldova, Switzerland etc.) and 81 constituent territories of the Russian Federation have been received, medical care has been provided to nearly 30000 people. Almost all those in need were assisted in hospitalization, and if necessary, in surgical treatment. Medical activity of ODS is carried out in four main directions: medical patronage, consultative and diagnostic out-of-hospital care, in-hospital investigation and treatment in state hospital clinics, comprehensive rehabilitation at the Counseling Centre.

Medical patronage is a long-term medical follow-up and supervision of priests and their families as a family doctor.

Consultative and diagnostic out-of-hospital care – the patient can receive qualified medical care of a doctor – a member of ODS in a hospital, a polyclinic or in a Counseling Centre.

In-hospital investigation and treatment in state hospital clinics means the provision of specialized medical care by doctors of ODS, working in these medical institutions in staff positions.

Comprehensive rehabilitation at the Counseling Centre – the way of providing specialized support to patients with neuropsychiatric diseases, who have suffered from occult damages under compulsory pastoral accompaniment.

One of the types of consultative and diagnostic assistance is medical examination of monastics when needed. Medical check-ups of the inhabitants of Valaam, Puhtitsa (Estonia) and Gornensky (Holy Land) monasteries were done by doctors of different specialties.

Counseling Centre

In February 2000, a Counseling Centre (CC) was established in the Society, in the name of Holy Martyr Cyprian and Martyr Justina. The following areas of activity were identified, when establishing the Counseling Centre: assistance to the occult damaged, drug addicts, alcoholics, victims of totalitarian cults, consultative, diagnostic and psychological care for church workers and priests, as well as parishioners of Orthodox churches on somatic and mental diseases, information and referral service. Patients reception is carried out for free, donations at will of patients. More than 40 specialists are involved in this activity at the moment. Conversations are also conducted with the patient about the connection between diseases and sins, passions, lifestyle etc. In addition to the medical treatment the need is indicated in participating in church life and sacraments. In 2001, special missionary courses were organized to prepare the passage of the rank of renunciation of the occult, totalitarian cults and joining the Orthodox Church. Rehabilitation of occult patients takes about a year on average. At the end of the rehabilitation course the rank of renunciation is held, to which the listeners who have changed their lifestyle, have shown efficient level of acquired knowledge and who have passed the test are allowed. Since 2000,
248 listeners have graduated. After completing the course, those who wish remain in the Brotherhood of Compassion and Mercy, where graduates help each other in difficult life situations: buying clothes, food, medicine, visits to the hospital, cleaning an apartment, accompanying to medical consultations, paying for housing services, walks.

Volunteer Squad «With an open heart»

In 2015, the Volunteer Squad «With an open heart» was established in the Society. The foundation of the Squad is made up of cadets of the Military Medical Academy named after S. M. Kirov, students of medical institutions and colleges of Saint Petersburg. The main purpose for establishing the Squad is to gain experience in compassionate service at young age. Volunteers participate in celebrations for orphans and families of the Orphanage graduates, give Christmas and Easter presents to the patients of the Children’s Regional Hospital, watch concerts for children of Saint Petersburg, organize events for large families and homeless, give the reports at Orthodox exhibitions and other events. In 2019, Travelling Theatre «Fairytale in a suitcase» was organized by the Squad, for moral and psychological support of children, who undergo a long-term treatment in hospitals and lonely elderly people.

Information and referral service

Information and referral service (IRS) was established in 2001 and is a link between all the activities of ODS, Autonomous Non-commercial Organization «Mercy» and many state medical and social organizations. The work of the Department is provided by highly qualified employees. IRS works 24 hours a day (after hours – in the voicemail mode). Since 2001, more than 55000 people have been given a counsel in the Russian Federation, countries of near and far abroad. Various people apply to IRS. These are poor and disabled people, retirees and large families, priests and members of their families, monastics and church workers, students of theological schools and colleges, representatives of other denominations.

Pilgrimage service

The Society’s Pilgrimage service has existed for 20 years. Orthodox doctors and patients, undergoing the rehabilitation at the Counseling Centre, as well as their family members, take part on pilgrimage trips to holy places. The trips take into consideration physical and mental state of the patients, mostly they are one -day trips. The doctor always accompanies a group of patients. The program of the trip usually includes the participation in the divine service, prayers in front of holy relics, immersion into a Holy Spring. More than 150 pilgrimage trips have been organized for the past 20 years, where over 4000 people took part.

Choir of Orthodox Doctors

In 2019, a Choir of Orthodox Doctors was formed to prevent professional burnout and for mental leisure. A choir subscription was designed, within which, after working hours, a music director conducts choral lessons. The program of the meetings includes spiritual and secular hymns, which can brighten family or professional holiday.

Methodological assistance in the establishment of regional
Orthodox Doctors Societies

One of the goals of Saint Petersburg Orthodox Doctors Society is methodological and organizational assistance in creating similar structures – Orthodox Doctors Societies, in various regions and subjects of the Russian Federation.

Saint Petersburg Orthodox Doctors Society provided organizational and methodological assistance in establishing Orthodox Doctors Societies in many cities of Russia (Arkhangelsk, Barnaul, Belgorod, Vologda, Voronezh, Volgograd, Vladivostok, Izhevsk, Irkutsk, Kostroma, Krasnoyarsk, Kurgan, Lipetsk, Maykop, Murmansk, Nizhny Novgorod, Novgorod, Novosibirsk, Omsk, Perm, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Rostov-on-Don, Saratov, Stavropol, Syktyvkar, Tambov, Tver, Tomsk, Tula, Tyumen, Ulyanovsk, Chelyabinsk, Chita, Yaroslavl). The experience and algorithm for establishing regional Orthodox Doctors Societies is described in a brochure published in 2008.

Our warm congratulations to all the Members of Saint Petersburg Orthodox Doctors Society named after St. Luke (Voyno-Yasenetsky) on its 20th anniversary, I call upon God’s blessing for further merciful deeds for the good of people and the Orthodox Church.