That’s th euniversal axiome of austerity programs: cuts first in wages, pensions and the health sector. The economic crisis in Greece has hit the state hospitals, whether in the big or in the smaller cities. Shortage of personnel, lack of life-saving medication, emergency facilities and basic supplies, while the number of uninsured patients is growing. In Serres, a city in Northern Greece, doctors tell JOanna Kakkisis about the difficulties they face in fulfilling thier duties and thus on a daily basis.
The 100 doctors and 80 residents who work at the Regional Hospital of Serres often work up to 100 hours a week and see a rising number of uninsured patients for free. The hospital serves the more than 200,000 people who live in the area.
Greek Hospitals Suffer In Ailing Economy
“The economic crisis in Greece is strangling the country’s hospitals, where budgets have been slashed by more than half. As a result, nearly all doctors in both public and private hospitals have seen their pay cut, delayed or even frozen.
Vangelis Papamichalis, neurologist
“We lack basic supplies to do our jobs. We run out of surgical gloves, syringes, vials for blood samples and needles to sew stitches, among other things.”
Last week, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said these shortages will contribute to hospital-acquired infection rates in Greece, which are already among the worst in Europe.
Charalambos Veliotis, pediatrician:
“We only have five state pediatricians to serve the entire region, there should be at least 20.”
“We’re seeing children with severe malnutrition. We’re seeing children who have fainted in school from hunger. Depression is common because their parents are unemployed.”
“We ration supplies, medicine, everything. Sometimes we pay out of our own pockets to buy them.”
Dimitris Kokkinidis, a hematologist:
“Many days, we run out of vials for blood samples, or we don’t have re-agents needed to test the blood. It’s just tragic.”
Kokkinidis’ salary has been cut in half. He now makes about $1,200 a month. That’s what his family of five must live on. His wife, Despina Rizopoulou, works as a family doctor at a private clinic, but she hasn’t been paid for 11 months. (Full story n.pr)