Order of Merit Award

Begun in 1981 by Dr. Stefan P. Wilk, a prominent and pioneering Los Angeles-based Radiologist of Polish descent, the Children’s Medical Care Foundation sponsors and arranges training visits for promising Polish pediatricians at leading medical institutions around the world, who then share their newly acquired knowledge with colleagues throughout Poland.

This 33-year collaboration, which has also involved joint research and the underwriting of subscriptions to important medical journals and textbooks, has been remarkably successful in reducing infant mortality in Poland and raising the overall level of infant care there.

The event was organized by Professor dr hab. Maria K. Borszewska-Kornacka, President of the Polish Neonatal Society and head of the Department of Neonatology at Warsaw Medical University, who lavished praise on Mr. Martinoff and the Children’s Medical Care Foundation for their enormous contribution to the cause of improving pediatric care.

In attendance at the castle were dignitaries and department heads from medical institutions from all over Poland and Ukraine, representing numerous medical specialties, many of whom benefited from CMCF-sponsored training earlier in their medical careers.

What follows are highlights of Professor Kornacka’s remarks:

In these great walls of the Royal Palace, dating back to the thirteenth century in the former headquarters of the Polish kings, and a symbol of post-war efforts of Poles to restore the capital to its former glory after the cruel ravages of war, we meet at this important site for this ceremony to award the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland to Mr. Bjoern Martinoff President of the Children’s Medical Care Foundation.

Bjoern Martinoff and the Board of Trustees and Directors of the  Children’s Medical Care Foundation continued the wonderful work that Dr. Stefan Wilk had begun by raising funds among the Polish community and sponsoring fellowships for doctors and other medical staff in renowned medical centers in the United States and Europe, and beyond, in such places as New York, Los Angeles, Sydney, Houston, Chicago, Boston, Memphis, Zurich, Frankfurt and Paris as well as at such esteemed institutions as Harvard, Stanford, and Columbia, to name just a few.

Another form of CMCF assistance was the sponsorship of subscriptions to important medical journals and the purchase and dissemination of medical textbooks to Polish neonatology and pediatric surgery clinics.

This award, granted by the President of the Republic, The Honorable Bronislaw Komorowski, is a recognition not only for Mr. Bjoern Martinoff, President of the Children’s Medical Care Foundation, but for all that this charitable organization has done since its establishment over 30 years ago to help Polish children by helping bring improvements in medical care.  It is also an expression of gratitude in recognition of the Foundation and Mr. Martinoff’s personal contribution to the development of Polish-American cooperation in the field of medicine as well as for promoting Polish health care facilities.

For over 33 years the CMCF’s help has been extremely significant in the development of Polish medicine by funding training and supporting research of Polish neonatologists, pediatric oncologists, pediatric anesthesiologists and pediatric surgeons-conducted at world-renowned medical centers.

CMCF sponsored training of neonatologists has produced tangible resulted in the development of Polish neonatology and neonatal intensive care which was expressed, among other things, in a spectacular reduction of the infant mortality rate of 20 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 4.5 per thousand in 2013.  Of the neonatology clinics currently in Polish medical universities, all are managed by doctors who hold the title of Professor, and all underwent training funded by the foundation.

Another very large group of physicians receiving Fellowships have been pediatric surgeons.  The first medical centers to be supported by the organization-even before neonatology centers-were surgery centers, which took place in the 1980’s.  Doctors receiving these Fellowships helped to start the Organ Transplantation Program in Poland which conducted the first kidney and liver transplants, as well as the bone marrow transplantation and surgeries to correct congenital heart defects in children.

Among the Polish surgeons who have benefited from CMCF scholarships present in this room are pediatric surgeons and chiefs from well known Polish medical institutions.  CMCF also sponsored the training of many doctors in specialties not mentioned above, such as pediatricians, pediatric oncologists and pediatric anesthesiologists.

Bjoern Martinoff and the Board of Directors of the Children’s Medical Care Foundation have developed a highly efficient procedure for nominating candidates, which ensures the proper selection of fellows.  Aspiring fellows are nominated by the heads of their offices, and must meet qualifications established by the CMCF Selection Committee, which is comprised of Polish neonatologists and pediatric surgeons who have have benefited from CMCF scholarships.  Former CMCF Fellows working in the best medical institutions in Poland are now implementing these modern methods of treatment, and sharing them with colleagues.

For all of this we, the Polish Medical Community and the Government of the Republic, have the opportunity to express gratitude today by honoring the current President of CMCF, Mr. Bjoern Martinoff, with this state distinction.  Our country will submit the same to thank the entire Children’s Medical Care Foundation, some of whom are present here today, as well as directors and physicians worldwide whose medical centers have provided CMCF-sponsored training for their great contribution to the development of Polish neonatology, pediatrics, pediatric surgery and pediatric anesthesiology.

CMCF has expanded its Fellowship Program into Ukraine, Latvia and Lithuania.  Former CMCF Fellows who now head neonatal and surgical clinics are the ones who train doctors from these countries in Polish medical universities.  That’s why I express my gratitude to the entire CMCF and personally to Mr. Bjorn Martinoff.

We wish you health, Bjorn Martinoff, and further success in your active operations, and new initiatives in supporting Polish pediatrics, neonatology and pediatric surgery.