Two to three hours before the oncology department of one of the biggest hospitals in Athens opens its gates at 7 a.m., cancer patients waiting for chemotherapy have already lined up outside, standing in the darkness before dawn, in the low November morning temperatures.
Shocking and shameful suffering for sick people who are forced to wait for hours before their turn comes for the therapy of hope.
“Every day from a quarter to five, endless queues form, with patients eagerly waiting for the hospital to open,” reported Open TV on Thursday morning.
The troubled patients say that while they have no problem with the medical staff and the nursing personnel, the problem lies with the administration and the hospital management as they cannot get a fixed appointment for their treatment.
While they have an appointment for the day, they don’t have one for the exact time their chemo begins, they say.
This lack of forthcoming organization forces them to leaver their homes very early in the morning and stand in queue for hours.
As there is no device for ‘priority numbers’, the patients make their own ones, writing numbers on papers, so that there can be a kind of priority order. Those coming after 6-6:30 a.m. they will hardly find a priority paper…
“What to do? So that we don’t kill each other, we create by ourselves a priority order, because we come already at 4, 4:30 or 5 o’ clock,” a middle-aged woman says.
She notes that the staff is very good, but the issue is that there are many patients and no organization.
“Now it will also be cold this week. What is going to happen? Shall we sit out here? Here we are all sick, have undergone operations. I’ve had surgery, had a kidney removed… will I be here in the cold? Something should be done about this by the management.”
And there are not only patients who live in Athens and the suburbs. A couple have traveled from the island of Kalymnos near the Turkish coast. They usually come 1-2 days earlier, have the therapy and the next appointment is in two weeks.
A man says that he comes here every two weeks too and every time he wonders if he’ll find a bed or a chair.
“Shouldn’t I know in advance if I’ll get a bed? The exact time of my scheduled chemotherapy? I normally have to wait for a patient who came before me to leave, so I can come in,” the man complaints.
For some patients the chemotherapy lasts one hour, for others three and for some six. If one added the waiting time, 2 hours at its best, then the extra trouble is immense for the fragile and weak cancer patients on chemo.
A 84-year-old man complains “my legs are trembling.” He has been waiting in line already for over one hour.
The management used to let them wait inside in the past, but now that practice is over, a man said.
Video: Live at Open TV before 6 a.m.
In the comments section on Youtube, some Greeks posted that this situation has been going on for quite some time, while others added that it’s daily in some hospital in Thessaloniki.
The department is a donation by a well-known shipowner family, the reporter says, implying that the management does nothing on its part to comfort the cancer patients or find a solution.
Those waiting outside say they do not know if the management is aware of the situation.
PS As the report is on all media websites, chances are good that the management of Laiko hospital finally wakes up one morning at 4 o’ clock and find a solution.