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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

AMC Gets $36 Million to Expand

As foreign investors flee the financial crisis in droves, a U.S. medical company unveiled plans Wednesday to invest $36 million into expanding its operations in Russia and the surrounding republics.

U.S.-based First Medical Group Inc., a parent company of American Medical Centers Management Co., which runs the American Medical Center in Moscow, will spend $36 million over two years to expand its programs and build a 400-bed hospital in the capital, the group's chairman, Dennis Sokol, said at a news conference.

"[Despite] unease and pressure and unfortunate economic changes ... we believe in the future of Russia, we are prepared to invest in Russia," Sokol said.

AMC will team up with Baylor Medical College, one of the top 20 U.S. medical institutions, to provide extended medical services in Moscow and St. Petersburg, as well as in Kiev, Warsaw and Prague, Sokol said.

He said the program aims to combine the medical expertise of local physicians with American administrative skills.

"Russia, unlike other parts in the world, has in our judgment a very well-educated labor pool, specifically in the area of medical profession," Sokol said. These professionals can be "added to the American delivery system concept," he added.

Part of the multimillion-dollar investment will go toward construction of an American-style hospital in Moscow, Sokol said. The hospital's honorary chairman will be Baylor Medical College's chancellor emeritus, Dr. Michael DeBakey, known among other things for advising during President Boris Yeltsin's quintuple heart bypass surgery in 1995.

Texas-based Baylor Medical College will provide consulting and educational services, while First Medical Group will cover the cost of building the hospital, Sokol said.

AMC, Baylor Medical College and the city of Moscow agreed on the project last year, and it is scheduled to be completed by 2000.

Architectural plans are being finalized for the building, which will stand near the International Trade Center, Sokol said.

Sokol said First Medical Group is unfazed by reports about Russia's economic collapse, saying the crisis is more like a correction.

"Quite frankly, we believe this correction and these economic changes are part of a market economy," he said.

"This country has made such a change going into the market economy, that the pendulum had to swing back to some degree," he said.

AMC, which was set up in Russia in 1991 under a decree by Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, has a good track record and has been through tough times before, Sokol said.

"I think there have been two coups since then -- fighting on the streets, the White House being blown up -- and we survived," he said. "We have no intention of leaving the market."

Since 1991, AMC has seen more than 225,000 patients. Today, patients are evenly split between expatriates and Russians. AMC employs about 95 professionals in Moscow, of whom 85 percent are Russian.