Andrzej Stashkevich, an alumnus of the 2019 Healthcare Management professional program and Deputy Director of the Center for the Rehabilitation of the Child St. Petersburg Charity Fund. The “I can walk” foundation and the children's medical rehabilitation center “Help Walk” help children with cerebral palsy to become independent using an integrated approach to medical rehabilitation. Andrzej spoke about the activities of the foundation today and the first steps of development 30 years ago, about education GSOM and the benefits of knowledge in daily activities.
Tell us about the activities of St. Petersburg Charity Fund "Center for the rehabilitation of the child"?
We created a fund to collect donations for the rehabilitation of children with disabilities, in particular children with cerebral palsy, and to carry out full-fledged individual rehabilitation work with them. Unfortunately, the state does not support such children in the form in which our medical center supports it. We use a proprietary methodology that has proven its effectiveness over the years. The methodology was approved by the Health Committee of St. Petersburg. Galina A. Suslova, Professor of the Department of Rehabilitation, St. Petersburg State Pediatric University, took an active part in the work on the method. The rehabilitation program for children with disabilities has been working on the basis of the foundation for 30 years, and includes:
- physiotherapy exercises;
- production of individual orthopedic shoes and insoles according to foot casts;
- speech therapy;
- vibroacoustic osteoreparation (accelerating the growth of bone tissue in the legs in length).
First of all, when patients come to us, we diagnose their condition. The doctor studies the history and selects an individual program for each child. The rehabilitation process lasts 60 treatment days or three full months.
Our task is to provide every child from any region of the country with high-quality services to improve health without paying parents for a long expensive course. Our benefactors, Russian and foreign companies and expats, help us. For example, one of such partners is GAZPROM Germania GmbH. Our feature and advantage is the fact that we can start working with children at the same time as we start raising funds for their rehabilitation. In the classical scheme, Foundations and patients usually have to wait for 100% of fundraising to start a rehabilitation program or provide other assistance.
Your foundation has created a medical center that has no analogues in Russia. How did you come to such an integrated approach? Why didn’t you cooperate with existing centers?
The idea of the project originated 30 years ago on the desire to help children with cerebral palsy. With a small team of like-minded people, we created something like a secret medical center that operates on the basis of a kindergarten. At one of the children's rehabilitation events, our team met with our compatriot living abroad, Maria D. von Moltke. She believed in the project and helped us gather a group of trustees and business representatives who donated funds for the establishment of the fund. We began to develop, the team began to grow, there was time to finalize our author’s methodology.
The program aroused great interest from the parents of children, and in 1998, as soon as the legislation of Russia allowed, we registered an NGO, which became a kind of symbiosis of a charitable foundation, a medical center with a license and an orthopedic workshop. This form of organization is extremely rare, and there are only four similar centers in the world. And since the Founders and the Management Board of the created Fund had the task of ensuring maximum accountability and transparency, which would be understood and accepted in different countries of the world.
In 2010, one of the philanthropists made a proposal to find a room, and with the joint efforts of the trustees a four-story building was purchased, where the center is currently located.
In February 2020, we again received positive feedback from the Department of Rehabilitation of AF and DPO FSBEI HE SPbSPMU of the Ministry of Health of Russia on the rehabilitation program for children with cerebral palsy used in our Center. And this means that we are taking the right, modern course.
What is the geography of your foundation? How many children have you already helped?
Over 30 years, more than 8,000 children have undergone a rehabilitation program. We have a map in the fund where each of our children is marked in the region of the country from which he or she arrived. The geography of our patients is large. It is almost all regions of the Russian Federation, as well as Kazakhstan, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania and other countries of the world. We are ready to help everyone in need — this is our mission.
Recently, the Fund entered the TOP-20 fundraising charity NGOs in the group of indicators “Transparency of activity” (2020). What is affected by ranking? How is it reflected in the activity? And the trustees?
RAEX Agency, Russia's largest ranking agency with a 20-year-old, recently released the ranking, in which we are very pleased that the Fund occupies the third position out of 293 represented by Russian NGOs, and in the top 20 of the most “transparent” funds. This is an important point, since it shows the maximum openness of our actions, and the fact that all incoming funds go exclusively to the salaries of employees, the maintenance of the building, and the main activity is carried out without a commercial allowance. In addition, the RAEX agency marked us the twelfth position in the TOP-20 rating of NGOs registered in St. Petersburg, according to the “Level of partner potential”.
Thanks to these rankings, we can openly show that we are ready for partnership with business and are absolutely clean before the trustees. Ranking is a great opportunity to declare oneself and tell about the activities of the Fund.
How did the epidemic affect your detail?
The pandemic made a major negative contribution to the Fund. Contibutors give us money for activities and specific assistance to the child, and in connection with the pandemic, assistance was suspended. The business has less money, especially for charity. With great difficulty, we kept the employees, paying 2/3 of the salary. But despite the difficult situation, we withstood the difficulties.
Since the beginning of July, we have been starting work again, many parents have long been waiting to help children and continue their rehabilitation. In summer, families from the regions come to us to undergo a rehabilitation course. We have purchased PPE, antiseptics and recirculators, we are going to follow all safety measures to help maximize safety for both children and employees.
Speaking about education at GSOM, what benefits did the Healthcare Management program give you?
As a person with two higher educations, which I received before GSOM, I regretted that I had not come to St. Petersburg State University earlier. After graduation, I still have the warmest and most positive memories. The faculty that worked with us are professionals. The program was very rich, we had many projects and discussions. The approach that GSM uses has helped me update and complement existing knowledge. Especially the legal information that we received was very useful, and it was already useful in everyday work. I made new acquaintances, we still communicate with many classmates, we help each other. It is very pleasant to become a member of the GSOM Family community, and I am very grateful for these contacts, contacts and time, I hope that we will be able to make an interesting joint project in the future.
In your opinion, what role should be given to social responsibility in educational programs for managers?
Academic knowledge provides the basis for the professional development of a future graduate. The academic program is not able to accommodate all aspects for future specialists, but forms a fairly broad horizons. I like that students have the opportunity to attend international internships and exchanges, where it is possible to supplement the knowledge base. CSR is one of the main aspects in education, primarily in the attitude of managers to their employees. Therefore, I believe that this is an important point that needs to be paid more attention. For our part, we are always ready to host large delegations, which will allow students to get acquainted with the activities from the inside.
What is the most valuable thing you received during the training? What have you already managed to take in real activity?
During the studying at GSOM, we visited foreign social facilities. Before that I was in various Asian and European organizations, but the visit to the medical center in Helsinki was very impressive. Their approach, the level of work both in terms of medicine and in terms of social assistance, is impressive, and I want to broadcast this experience. If I had not come to the program at GSOM, I could not have obtained this knowledge not only from the teachers of the School, but also from the leading professors of St. Petersburg and foreign medical institutions. Working in a team with other students of the program showed that we can jointly implement projects, that we have a lot in common. Despite the fact that I have a lot of managerial experience, GSOM SPbU program made me wiser, it helped me to look at the processes differently and rebuild them in a new way.