Labor Minister Andreas Loverdos was rushed to a Veria hospital on Easter Sunday just before 23:00, after complaining of abdominal pain.
With the CT-scan machine out of order since Holy Thursday when the lamp went out — and no spare on hand, prompting an order to be placed abroad — he was sent to a hospital in Naoussa for examination and back again to Veria, after which a doctor decided at 3:30 to have Loverdos go by ambulance to the Νοσηλευτικό Ίδρυμα Μετοχικού Ταμείου Στρατού (NIMTS) in Athens. His diagnosis is stomach inflammation acute appendicitis, and doctors say his condition has steadily improved.
Everyday people were not so fortunate.
Elsewhere in Greece, a 35-year-old died at the Mytilini Hospital after a car accident because, although there was a working CT scanner, no doctors were on duty to read results. One doctor had permission to leave for Easter; the other threatened to resign and took unauthorized leave in spite of his vacation request being denied.
This is not the first time CT scanners have made news in Greece. Last fall, two machines at the Ippokrateio Hospital in Thessaloniki broke down after more than 20 years of use; stroke patients and road-accident victims had to be transferred to Genimmatas Hospital in Athens. In March 2009, €2.5 million in CT machines arrived in the AHEPA Radiotherapy Oncology Unit but sat unused because of red tape, and have since been transferred to private hospitals. The latter may have been overshadowed by a 53-year-old man dying in an ambulance when a Thessaloniki hospital ran out of oxygen.
Nearly four of 10 CT-scan machines in the public health system in Greece are more than 10 years old, prone to technical problems and of questionable maintenance. The Kathimerini quotes a source, saying repairs are delayed because “a state committee for health procurements lacks the staff to approve expenditure.” The Ag. Dimitrios Hospital in Thessaloniki waited three years before its request to purchase or lease a new machine was approved.
Meanwhile, scanners in Polygyros, Kozani, Florina and Ptolemaida only operate part-time and never on weekends or holidays due to lack of trained staff.
The Federation of Greek Hospital Doctors’ Unions says 70 percent of CT scanners in operation in Greece are in private hospitals. I question this figure based on a 2007 experience detailed in “Heart-to-heart encounter with a private hospital in Greece.”
In the News
“Greek state hospital CT scan machines obsolete” — Kathimerini
“Ο αξονικός…Γολγοθάς μας” — Eleftherotypia
“Θύμα του…ΕΣΥ ο Λοβέρδος!” — Ta Nea
“Impact of medical shortages being felt” — Kathimerini
“ΕΣΥ φωνάζεις, αλλά ποιος ακούει;” — Eletherotypia
“Τομογράφος υπήρχε αλλά όχι…γιατροί” — Eleftherotypia
“Loverdos improving” — Eleftherotypia
Image from virtualhealthcenter.org