Václav Trnka (1897-1965)

Personality in Medicine section

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MUDr. Václav Trnka is one of the most important personalities of healthcare and hospital in Příbram in 20th century. Together with other colleagues, he managed to improve the state of health care in Příbram. He became head of the hospital in 1932 when he defeated 11 candidates.

He was born on 17th August 1897 in Jarov near Beroun. After finishing grammar school in Beroun and 3 years of serving as Austria-Hungarian soldier during World War I., he began to study medicine at Charles University from 1919 to 1923 in newly established Czechoslovak State. After practising under the supervision of professor Kukula, Trnka worked at I. Surgery Clinic with professor Jirásek. From 1929 his occupation was a clinic assistant. From 1928 to 1930 he substituted head of the hospital in District Hospital in Slaný. He replaced the head of Surgical Division of Divisional Military Hospital in Košice during military training as a reserve officer in medical services.

MUDr. Václav Trnka began to work in Příbram at the age of 35 and did not disappoint any expectations. He always worked responsibly, professionally and was very hard-working. He managed to solve all medical and administrative duties reliably. Thanks to this he was respected by his superior authorities. Trnka was a friendly person and favourite among patients, colleagues and his subordinates.

In the beginning of his employment at the hospital, he had to face an uneasy state of the hospital and initial mistrust by his surroundings. Yet, thanks to his presence, the hospital soon became quality and trustful hospital. New equipment was arranged, among others X-rays or operating table. Based on the contract with Czechoslovak Red Cross in 1938, the hospital could use an ambulance car which was very exceptional at that time. Doctor’s employment lasted 15 hours. Head physician Trnka worked with 4 doctors, 10 nuns, 5 clerks and assistants. All of them had to be sufficient to work with people on 170 beds and more than 3,000 patients per year.

Václav Trnka was a patriot and showed courage and heroism. During Occupation of World War II. (1939–1945) he secretly helped to the anti-Nazi resistance movement and provided them with medicaments. He also helped with the treatment of many resistance fighters from May Uprising 1945. The resistance fighters were hurt by members of Hitler’s Armed Forces around Slivice and Milín, where there was one of the last fights of World War II. on 11th May 1945.

He attempted to provide the best possible medical treatment of patients and to support progress in hospital in restored Czechoslovak Republic. He deeply respected nuns and that was why he strongly disagreed with the suggestion of District National Committee of Příbram to terminate work contracts with them. In a letter sent to Provincial National Committee in Prague he pointed out the lack of staff which the hospital would have to face. His attempts were successful for some time and nuns could stay in the hospital. Yet, it was only till 1950 when communist authorities began to attack church representatives, liquidate monasteries and intern religious representatives. The so-called event ”K” (stading for Kláštery – monasteries) was executed by Státní bezpečnost (State Security) and Sbor národní bezpečnosti (National Security Corps). An armed intervention was carried out in Svatá Hora when the premises were occupied and the religious were violently transported to so-called centralized centre in Králíky and internment monastery in Želiva. Another attack was executed on 26th September 1950 when nuns from Příbram’s hospital were transported to internment camp.

Václav Trnka worked in the hospital for 30 years. He also dedicated time to education of nurses. He died in Vinohradská Hospital in Prague on 8th August 1965.