Archive for June 10th, 2017

The system works (for me)

I have been living in Greece and on Skopelos for 21 years and I feel that the opinions about the health system in Greece are divided. The economic crisis forces people to make choices about their lives and the main question often is; can I afford to go to a doctor, can I have that test done ? When health questions are involved money should not be an issue but it is. Especially on an island where you have to leave it in order to get to a doctor, a clinic or a hospital. When people have paid all their working life for health insurance they need to be certain that the healthcare provided is good. When hospitals are overfull, when there are waiting lists, when you have to pay for services it discourages patients to get the right medical attention and care and check-ups to prevents illnesses are not done.

When we were faced with a medical problem recently we asked the help of a doctor in the health center on Skopelos to find the right surgeon for the job. He was able to make an appointment for us in the hospital of Volos the next week. In Volos hospital you first go to the offices on the ground floor where all the doctors see their patients.

When we arrived in the hospital we left behind (on the door of the office in an envelope) our invitation and the medical secretary called us in when it was our turn. Many people were waiting but we got called in eventually. In the office of the surgeon we talked about the procedure and a week later we were invited to the hospital for the procedure.

Early in the morning, upon arrival, we checked in on the third floor and we received the papers for the various tests that needed to be done; heart, blood and x-ray. You have to listen well to make sure all the tests are collected and seen by the experts. It is important that you speak Greek or have somebody with you that does. Every patient is allowed one person as a companion during their stay in the hospital. There is not enough staff to help with everything so the companion helps out too. This companion is allowed to sit next to the bed of the patient. Many also sleep there. Later that morning we also had a talk and a check-up with the anesthesiologist and after that we were given a bed.

The next morning the procedure was performed. The surgeons visited later in the day and gave advice about treatment. We stayed the night and the following morning after the surgeons visited again we could go home. We were given the papers for the check out. We collected the right stamps and we took take the papers with us with advice for medicines and further treatment.

The busy nurses on the third floor of the hospital of Volos were friendly and helpful and wished us good luck before the operation. They called us during the procedure and said we could go to the waiting room next to the surgery and sit there . The surgeon came out and said that all surgeries were going well. The cleaning staff did what they could in such a busy hospital and remembered a request to clean the bathroom floor a second time. The surgeons were joking with us before the procedure so we did not feel afraid. You could ask anything if you did not understand something. In general the atmosphere was excellent. I just wanted to tell this positive story about a small “adventure” in the health care system and hope it gives you a little insight in how things work. Not everything is broken and for me the system worked.



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