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Pandemic in Thessaloniki: Two-class Covid-19 patients, 2-tier doctors

Health authorities in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city and the hardest hit by the pandemic, are preparing for the worst with two-class system both for patients and doctors.

In a circular to the Ambulance Service of the city, health authorities urge paramedics to not take patients without insurance should not be taken to private hospitals.

Worth noting that with a legislation in 2015, uninsured patients in need of ICU can be hospitalize din private clinics if not ICU available in public hospitals. The same legislation provides that uninsured patients have full medical care in public hospitals without a charge.

As hospitalizations have dramatically increased in public hospitals in the last few days, the plan of the Health Ministry is to transfer Covid-19 patients also in private hospitals and clinics. However, for these the state pays extra money. And it obviously does not feel obliged to pay any cent for patients without insurance, even if they lost their right due to long-time unemployment.
Public Hospital Doctors in Thessaloniki said in a statement on Wednesday morning that all ICUs in public hospitals have turned into ICUs for Covid-19 patients and that Covid-patients who do not need ICU are transferred to private clinics where the state pays “double prices.”
In a parallel development, the government has given up any effort to strengthen the health care system with the much needed recruitment of doctors and seeks to ‘engage’ private doctors for as long as the pandemic           in the country.
The Medical Association of Thessaloniki sent on Tuesday messages to its members urgently calling private doctors of all specialties to work at public hospitals.
In the message, the MATh said that it has worked out the working conditions with the Health Ministry.
These are:
work contracts of 6+6 months
2,000 euros salary, tax-free and unconfiscatable
The private doctors can keep operating their private practice, the MATh said.
Salary without taxes? That’s pretty unfair for state doctors who fight the pandemic under tough conditions and without extra help from the state other than some “gratitude clapping” that also stopped in summer.
Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias said on Tuesday that “test positivity in the city was 32%.”
Citing health experts, state broadcaster ERT said on Wednesday that 1:3 people in Thessaloniki are infected with Covid-19.
In 300 rapid tests conducted outside a public hospital in the morning, 100 were positive, ERT reported.
At the same time, some local Health Centers in the province have been shut down with the “official justification” to “avoid crowding of patients.”
Minister Kikilias who visited Thessaloniki this morning for “first hand information” said that the health system there will be strengthen with “50 ICU beds.” – If there is no personnel for these 50 more beds, it was just a nice – one more – firework by a politician.

On Tuesday, doctors of the biggest hospital in the city said that as all Covid-19 ICUs were full, they had to make choices who to treat.

Thessaloniki has some one million inhabitants. If 1:3 are Covid-19 carriers. If 1/3 of them would need hospitalization, this would mean 100,000 beds -independently of beds in ICUs.
PS Let’s hope that these 100,000 beds would not be needed at the same time. Otherwise, it’s …”Good night and good luck.”

UPDATE: After an outcry on social media about the uninsured patients, the government tabled an amendment so that they will also be transferred and treated in private hospitals.

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