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The Roddom



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Roddom No. 2

Roddom No. 2

St. Petersburg

In the St. Petersburg of the 1770’s, Catherine the Great ordered the construction of Russia’s first maternity house—rodilnii dom, or roddom for short. It was an enormous three-story building occupying nearly an entire city block. These first maternity hospitals, like others being constructed in Europe at the time, were built not for the well to do of the city, but for the sick and the homeless. Catherine’s first roddom still operates today as Roddom No. 6, specializing in pre-eclampsia and the toxemias of pregnancy.

Early in the Soviet period, healthcare was socialized—being equally available to all citizens free of charge—and as time went on the system became highly regionalized. Women attended prenatal visits at their regional women’s clinic, and gave birth in the regional roddom, having been transported there by a dispatched obstetrical ambulance. Women living in rural areas were transported by obstetrical ambulance to roddoms in the city. St. Petersburg (Leningrad) always had a reputation of providing some of the highest quality obstetric care in all of the Soviet Union. It boasted of one of the top medical teaching institutes as well as having more advanced technology and highly qualified specialists in all medical disciplines.

The roddom that hosts Russian Birth Project interns has a history extending back into the 19th century as a general hospital and later being transformed into Roddom No. 2. It differs however from all other roddoms of St. Petersburg in that it is the only non-governmental roddom in the city. This has been a difficult and challenging transformation for the roddom staff, many of whom have worked there for 20 years or more.



The RBP first began its relationship with the roddom in 1992, shortly after the internship’s beginning. We were attracted to the roddom because of the forward-thinking attitude of its then-head doctor, Zhanna Mendelevna Savina, an energetic, courageous woman with a very different idea about what she wanted for her hospital: self-sufficiency and independence from the government healthcare system. Zhanna Mendelevna had a vision of a better roddom, offering the highest quality midwifery/obstetric care while giving families what they wanted in the new Russia of the 1990’s, and offering the staff a better working environment and more direct participation in decision-making.

In 1997 Zhanna Mendelevna retired and emigrated to Germany, having more than adequately served her staff in making the transition to a non-governmental hospital. At that time, her "right hand" and longtime colleague, Natalya Pavlovna Salnikova, took her place as Head Doctor. Natalya Pavlovna graduated from medical school in 1972 and has worked at Roddom No. 2 since 1978.

The head physician in charge of medical matters of Roddom No. 2 is Raisa Ivanovna Anashkina. Raisa Ivanovna has worked at three of Leningrad’s roddoms and has served at Roddom No. 2 since 1998. Her many years of experience make her an invaluable source of midwifery knowledge.

The Head Midwife of the roddom is Irina Giorgievna Bazhenova. Irina Giorgievna has been a midwife since 1976. She was born and raised in the eastern Siberian town of Gorokhovo in the Irkutsk region. She is indispensable to the smooth functioning of the roddom as well as a source of support and information for interns.

In the last couple years, Roddom No. 2 has remodeled its departments and expanded its services.


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