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Clinical activity

Clinical wards
Fifty years ago, the Golnik Sanatorium was a tuberculosis hospital. After the discovery of effective anti-tuberculosis therapy, it started to deal with the treatment of other pulmonary diseases. The first pulmonary ward was established in 1955 and an internal ward in 1963. However, tuberculosis patients remained an important group of hospital patients for several decades. After 1970 (discovery of IgE), hospital doctors also began to treat allergic diseases, especially asthma, and obstructive pulmonary diseases. In the 1990’s, the number of patients with allergic diseases had grown to the extent that in 1993, Dr. Jana Furlan initiated the formation of the first allergy ward in Slovenia.

The University Clinic of Respiratory and Allergic Diseases Golnik is recognized in Slovenia as the leading hospital for pulmonary and allergic diseases. By reintroducing thoracic surgery, it aims to provide a complete treatment for patients with pulmonary diseases.

Most of the work consists of diagnosing and treating patients with allergic and pulmonary diseases at the secondary and tertiary levels, and other patients with internal diseases at the secondary level. Hospital wards and other units cooperate with each other to provide an excellent integrated treatment for all patients. In general, the hospital admits patients with allergic and pulmonary diseases to all wards, but some specific diseases are dealt with in specialised wards. Many patients, mostly the elderly, have accompanying internal diseases, especially cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. If there is a need for additional treatment or prolonged hospitalisation, the patients are transferred to the Nursing and Palliative Care Ward.

Contemporary treatment of pulmonary patients is oriented to treatment in outpatient clinics. Patients are admitted to the hospital only for a period of emergency treatment. They then attend checkups as outpatients. This has led to the shortening of hospital stays to 7 days in 2007, 2 days less than a decade ago.

The process of treatment involves all hospital wards, units and laboratories, which work together and using knowledge, experience and equipment, contribute to the diagnostics, treatment and rehabilitation of the patient. The most typical example of such treatment is pulmonary tuberculosis: The Laboratory for Mycobacteria identifies the pathogen, the Radiology Unit takes chest X-rays, a specialised ward treats the patient and the Register of Tuberculosis registers and monitors them with the help of outpatient clinics until they are completely recovered. The treatment process also includes the monitoring of the patient after they leave the hospital with social and home health care services at their home (see individual chapters on the above mentioned units). A similar treatment process is carried out for patients with infectious and interstitial lung diseases (see chapters on Wards 100 and 300, laboratories and diagnostic units).

Important parts of the treatment are also physiotherapy and patient rehabilitation, both of which are carried out either individually or as part of a group. It is essential that patients with chronic pulmonary diseases undergo and learn respiratory physiotherapy during their hospitalisation so that they can continue to do exercises at home.

An effective information system, which enables an accurate and fast acquisition of laboratory test results, has accelerated the work performed in the wards.

Doctors often follow their patient's care in outpatient clinics. The outpatient clinics in the hospital and in the hospitals in Kranj, Jesenice and Ljubljana are an integral part of the University Clinic of Respiratory and Allergic Diseases Golnik and an important contribution to the complete process of treatment.

Nursing care is an individual hospital service and is described in a separate chapter (see the chapter on nursing care). The work is performed in three shifts and is similar in all wards with the exception of nursing care for oncologic patients who are treated with chemotherapy, and in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease who need non-invasive ventilation. Nursing care at the Intensive Care Unit is also slightly different.

In all wards both medical and nursing staff educate patients, according to the patient's health problems, individually or in group courses; for instance, there are courses for patients with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes and for those on home oxygen therapy.

As part of the supporting health education for patients and in order to help patients understand their disease and treatment the staff publish brochures and booklets, popular science articles in journals and magazines, and provide information on health through different media.

The hospital management encourages medical and nursing staff to regularly attend a variety of seminars and courses in order to improve knowledge and to keep up-to-date with the latest developments in medicine and related sciences. The staff are trained individually or in groups either in the hospital or in other institutions in Slovenia and abroad. Besides clinical work, teaching and research are also conducted (see the introductory chapters).

The organisation of administrative work is the same in all wards. Each ward has a coordinator who supervises the work: the coordinator serves as a link between doctors’ instructions and nurses, follows transfers of patients to diagnostic units during their hospitalisation, enters information on diagnostic procedures and test results in the computer database and sends patients’ medical documents and dictated reports (histories, discharges and other) to administrators to type. The coordinator also ensures that doctors receive the patient’s discharge papers in time and prepares those patient’s documents required for a diagnostic procedure within or outside the hospital. The centre of activity in each ward is the nurses’ room where all work is coordinated. The coordinator makes sure that the work is completed efficiently and rationally and at the same time also patient- and staff-friendly.

  • Ward 100
  • Ward 200
  • Ward 300
  • Nursing and Palliative Care Ward
  • Ward 600
  • Ward 700
  • Intensive Care Unit



Ward 100
31 beds
1.656 admissions (2007)

This ward continues the tradition of treating inflammatory lung diseases, particularly different types of pneumonia. Working closely with Ward 300 they also specialise in treating interstitial lung diseases, sarcoidosis, vasculitides and genetic diseases, for example cystic fibrosis. They often cooperate with other specialists, particularly rheumatologists and paediatricians, and are authors of the guidelines for the treatment of patients with sarcoidosis. Moreover, they are preparing a national register of rare pulmonary diseases. There are 27 employees who take care of up to 31 patients. Patients are treated in an interdisciplinary team. Besides working in the hospital, employees engage in pedagogical, research and educational work. They try to optimize the inpatient length of stay and also work in outpatient clinics.

Katarina Osolnik, MD, internal medicine specialist, took over the management of the ward in 2002. She graduated in 1992 and finished residency in 1998. She has been employed at the hospital since 1993 and has performed bronchoscopic procedures since 1996. However, most of her work is dedicated to diagnosing and treating sarcoidosis.

Ward 200
34 beds  including 6 beds for chemotherapy, 5 fully equipped private rooms
2.252 admissions (2007)

The ward specialises in diagnosing and treating patients with lung cancer, pleural mesothelioma and occupational lung diseases. Working with other Slovenian doctors, the staff prepared the Slovenian guidelines for the treatment of patients with lung cancer. Around half of all the patients with lung cancer in Slovenia are admitted to this ward annually. Integrated cancer treatment is based on interdisciplinary work. There is also a palliative care team, who provide psychological and spiritual support for patients. When treating patients with cancer, it is necessary for staff to cooperate closely with the multidisciplinary team for oncology as well as with different diagnostic units and laboratories. Patients with occupational lung diseases are usually treated in outpatient clinics. Patients in this ward are taken care of by 32 employees.

Nadja Triller, MD, internal medicine specialist, is the head of this unit. She graduated in 1982 and has been employed at the hospital since 1992 when she also completed residency. She underwent additional professional training in Amsterdam, Lille, Heidelberg and Hemmer. As a bronchoscopy specialist, she is also actively involved in educational and research work.

Ward 300
35 beds including 9 for patients with allergies, 4 fully equipped private rooms
2.105 admissions (2007)

This ward is primarily oriented to treating immunological diseases of the pulmonary interstitium, asthma and other diseases of allergic origin (allergies to insect stings, drugs, food). They administer specific immunotherapy to patients allergic to wasp and bee venoms with anaphylactic reaction. In cooperation with other Slovenian specialists, they formed the guidelines for treating patients with anaphylactic shock. The team of doctors is active in research work and has also formed the national guidelines for the use of antibiotics in the treatment of respiratory infections (community-acquired pneumonias). The staff promote a rational use of antibiotics in order to prevent the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In 2007, 32 employees took care of patients in 36 beds, a quarter of which were usually occupied by patients with allergies.

Nissera Bajrović, MD, internal medicine specialist, has been the head of this ward since autumn 2007. She graduated in 1995 and has been employed at the hospital since 1998. She finished residency in 2001.

Nursing and Palliative Care Ward
19 beds including 4 palliative beds
369 admissions (2007)

This ward was founded in 2003 as the first one of its kind in Slovenia and is run by a registered nurse. The ward has 19 beds and 12 nurses who take care of patients in extended care, also offering them health education and rehabilitation. The nurses and other members of a multidisciplinary team help prepare their patients for an independent life at home or in a nursing home. Using their professional knowledge and a well-organised scheme, they teach patients and their relatives how to use different medical devices, e.g. how to use oxygen or inject insulin at home. There are 4 beds for patients who need palliative and nursing care. The nurses take care of patients in a professional manner with a human touch and high moral standards so as to preserve dignity.

Head of the ward, Ida Hafner, BA in Nursing Studies, has more than thirty years working experience at the University Clinic Golnik. She has also successfully completed a 400-hour educational programme on the organisation of nursing care in hospitals and is the first nurse in Golnik to be in charge of a ward.

Ward 600
31 beds, 6 additional beds for rehabilitation
1.353 admissions (2007)

The ward specialises in the treatment of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as well as differential diagnostics of obstructive pulmonary diseases and chronic respiratory insufficiency. In 2007, the ward was incorporated with Ward 500. It now has 31 beds for acutely ill patients and 6 additional beds for the rehabilitation of patients with pulmonary diseases. The patients are taken care of by 30 employees. In the treatment of patients with acute exacerbation of COPD, non-invasive ventilation has been in use since 2004. The staff recently decided to treat patients suffering from chronic hypercapnic respiratory insufficiency with non-invasive home ventilation. There is a rehabilitation programme for patients with COPD and an educational programme for long-term oxygen treatment at home. In order to provide a more integrated treatment of patients with COPD the ward cooperates with the Laboratory for Pulmonary Function Tests, a multidisciplinary team for obstructive pulmonary diseases, pulmonary outpatient clinics, the Laboratory for Cardiovascular Function Tests and other health services outside the hospital.

Sabina Škrgat Kristan, MD, internal medicine specialist, has been the head of the ward since 2004. She graduated in 1996, has been employed at the hospital since 1998, and finished residency in 2004. She is currently working on a doctor’s degree.

Ward 700
18 beds
377 admissions (2007)

Through professional experience, improvement of social and economic standards of the population and hard work of many tuberculosis outpatient clinics, the incidence of tuberculosis in Slovenia dropped rapidly. Patients with tuberculosis are admitted to a closed ward where ward doctors carry out the entire treatment process, perform diagnosis and follow the patient’s epidemiological data. By examining those living in close contact with the patient and performing a genetic analysis of microepidemics, the staff try to find other people who might have become infected with tuberculosis. The treatment, which follows standard drug therapy, lasts for about 6 months. Occasionally, the disease is caused by drug-resistant bacteria. Although the prognosis of tuberculosis is good, patients should be educated about the disease and encouraged to actively participate in their own treatment. Good cooperation with home health care services and pulmonary outpatient clinics should also be established, because after being released from hospital tuberculosis patients often discontinue taking their drugs.

Petra Svetina Šorli, MD, internal medicine specialist.

Intensive Care Unit
14 beds
503 admissions (2007)

This is the hospital unit for treating the most severe conditions which can endanger a patient’s life. Patients are usually admitted to this unit as an emergency, e.g. after suffering a heart attack or patients with sepsis or respiratory insufficiency. The unit has 14 beds and 30 employees who carry out the most difficult invasive and non-invasive procedures in order to maintain a patient’s life. The most frequently performed procedures are mechanical ventilation (120 patients per year) and weaning from mechanical ventilation, however, they also perform minor pulmonary surgical procedures. Isolation rooms are also situated in this unit.

Igor Drinovec, MD, internal medicine specialist, has been in charge of the unit since 1984. He graduated in 1969 and finished residency in 1975. He has been employed at the hospital since 1971 and has been working in this unit since 1975. He has also continuously trained doctors of emergency medicine besides his routine work with respirators and invasive methods of treatment.