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Sunday, June 1, 2014

Message to the Greek Minister of Health: If you can’t do the job, then resign!



Press Release

Message to the Greek Minister of Health:
If you can’t do the job, then resign!


The announcement of the Greek Ministry of Health in answer to our press-release of the previous day shows clearly that the Ministry has no idea of what their duties are.

Once more, we will answer the questions raised by the Health Ministry in their communication.

1)      To the charge that we imagined that the 54 year old uninsured patient was thrown out of surgery by the hospital administration, we respond that this was confirmed by not only the patient and his wife, but also by others within the hospital.  The patient was admitted for surgery after pressure by the doctors of Evangelismos hospital on the understanding that he would soon be issued with a welfare booklet which would allow him to not have to pay for the expensive operation.  However, at the last minute, the head of accounting of the hospital rejected this plan and forced the patient to leave.  That is exactly what happened. 
2)      We intervened for the sole purposed of helping the patient defend his life.  When a cardiologist decides a patient must receive a pacemaker, and must receive it immediately, that is enough to show that the patient is vulnerable at any time which could be fatal.  No cardiologist can predict when a serious arrhythmia, or worse will occur.  It’s bad enough that some non-medical staffer can make such a patient wait for a month.  But it’s down-right strange that this patient couldn’t get the proper care from the beginning of his condition.  Perhaps it’s even stranger that the Ministry of Health is trying desperately to excuse its behavior with two announcements in 24 hours.  Since the operation was scheduled, as the Ministry of Health stated, why was the patient contacted by the hospital to be re-admitted the following day?  What would this patient have done if we had not provided him the medication he required?
3)      We announced on our Facebook page Tuesday night 13 May and that the patient had been re-admitted to hospital for surgery.  We did this because, unfortunately, we have often received promises from the Ministry which ended up being empty words.  We don’t announce the promises – just those that are carried through.  The next day on Wednesday 14 May, it was confirmed to us that the patient had been re-admitted and we announced it on our web page.  The issue is why did the hospital administration make such a big deal over doing what was expected?  The patient had access to doctors (at Evangelismos) and had medicines from us.  But why did they not proceed with the surgery the first time he was admitted?  The surgery occurred only after we publicized the whole story.  What does the Ministry want us to believe?  That is was just coincidence that on the night of Tuesday 13 May the hospital administration called the patient to tell him that we would be re-admitted the very next day?  Is it standard procedure for the hospital administration to call every patient and inform him to come in for surgery the next day?  Why then on Wednesday 14 May did we get a panicky call from the administration of the hospital asking us to cancel and delete the press release since “all’s well that ends well?”  
4)      We question the hospital administration and the Greek Health Ministry, not the doctors who extend themselves to help thousands of citizen on a daily basis and under the very difficult conditions imposed by the economic memorandum and the Troika (cuts in public hospital budgets, hospital closures, the dissolving of EOPPY, reduction in medical personnel, increase in costs of public health for those who do have access to it, etc.)  The daily situation that doctors and medical staff have to face in Greek public hospitals is tragic.  Often basic goods are lacking, such as gauze, not to mention expensive medicines, spares for diagnostic machinery rendering them useless, etc.
5)       For our four uninsured patients with hepatitis, we were pleased that the Ministry of Health publicly admitted that they referred us to a pharmaceutical company.  So we once again emphasize that the leadership of the Ministry of health should IMMEDIATELY resign, not only because it improperly does its job by referring uninsured with communicable diseases to find treatment directly from the pharmaceutical company, but also because the patients were referred to us to provide medication or to provide surgery (read here for more information – in Greek).  The Ministry of Health is responsible for protecting the public health of society as a whole – not refer individuals to private companies or voluntary clinics.  If they can’t do this, and believe that we can do the job better, then pass the administration on to us – we’ll do our best!!  Until that day, the Ministry of Health is RESPONSIBLE for these four patients, not to mention the 3 million other uninsured in this country.  Finally, just to note, our problem was not to find the refrigeration to store the medication, but to find the medication itself for these 4 patients.

Finally we have to say that all the energy that the Ministry of Health has put in to publicizing their differences with us – two press releases in 24 hours - could have been better spent in helping uninsured patients, and not trying to justify the unjustifiable.  Volunteer clinics like ours, trying to bring solidarity to the community have nothing to gain from a public feud with the Ministry of Health.  We do not/will not play such games.
If we were playing “political games”, perhaps the social services of the municipality of Glyfada were playing games when they referred the patient to us, knowing all the details of the case?
Maybe the United Nations is playing games when they published a report citing serious violations of human rights of both citizens and immigrants from the Greek state, and pointing up the many shortfalls of the Greek public health system?
Neither us, nor Glyfada nor the UN are playing games, we’re simply expressing truths that some parties would rather not become widely known.
The treatment that our clinic recommends for the Greek Minister of Health and his colleagues is for them to collectively bend their heads a bit and listen carefully to the hundreds of citizens who contact them and find a comprehensive solution to their problems, rather than trying to patch up or cover up the issues.  Let us finally open the Greek Public Health System to all of the Greek public, whether insured or not!!




METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CLINIC AT HELLINIKO 

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