MAHONING VALLEY Group sends medical machines to Slovakia
The CAT scan and mammography machines worth $250,000 were donated by retiring physicians.
By PETER H. MILLIKEN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
VIENNA -- Two donated medical imaging machines will soon provide much-needed diagnostic services to the people of Slovakia, thanks to an organization led by Mahoning Valley residents of Slovak descent.
A C-130 transport plane left the Youngstown Air Reserve Station last week, carrying seven Europe-bound crates containing the CAT (computerized axial tomography) and mammogram machines.
The Youngstown Sister Cities Program Inc., founded 10 years ago to provide humanitarian aid to Slovakia, arranged to have the machines, donated by two retiring Weirton, W.Va., physicians, converted to European electrical requirements and sent overseas.
Donated services: The machines, with a combined worth of $250,000 and weight of about 7,000 pounds, were delivered on a truck owned by Bolt Construction Co. of Poland to the air base in Vienna, accompanied by Joe Sedzmak of Boardman and Steve Bacon of Poland, vice president and president, respectively, of the local Sister Cities Program.
Bacon, one of the program founders, is co-owner of the construction company and has made 35 trips to Slovakia since 1962.
"I saw the plight of the country," he said.
Sedzmak, a retired accountant with Worthington Industries of Salem, and a member of Salem Rotary, helped organize a Rotary Club in Slovakia, which is arranging delivery of the machines by truck to the hospitals where they'll be used.
The CAT scan machine will be installed in Spisska Nova Ves (sister city to the Youngstown organization), and the mammogram machine will be installed in Zvolen -- a central Slovakian town.
"They're still two generations behind [Americans] in their standard of living," Bacon said of Slovakians. Their country is largely hilly and mountainous and about the size of Pennsylvania, with a population of about 5.5 million. Bacon estimated that 35 percent of the Youngstown area's population has Slovak ancestry.
Sister Cities' help: Over the past decade, the Youngstown Sister Cities Program, a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization, has sent 12,500 textbooks to schools and 2,000 medical books to universities in Slovakia and 16 containers of medical equipment and supplies to the nation.
The organization has also sponsored 42 American teachers for six months at a time to teach English in Slovakia. It also sponsored a seminar on American municipal government in 1994 at Youngstown State University for 25 Slovakian mayors, who were touring the United States. The organization's next goal is to obtain a donated used orthopedic operating table for a hospital in Kosice, Slovakia's second largest city.
Aid program: The CAT scan and mammography machines were transported to Europe at U.S. government expense on a space-available basis under a program known as the U.S. Aid Denton Amendment.
As a major fund-raiser for its activities, the Youngstown Sister Cities Program sponsors an annual tour of Slovakia. This year's sold out, 16-day tour, with 43 American participants, leaves July 8.