“The next months will be crucial and we are very well aware that if we do not take care the health system will come under great pressure,” stated Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Monday, at a ceremony marking the addition of 50 additional ICU beds in Sotiria Hospital in Athens.
The Prime Minister noted that hiring will occur “wherever and whenever necessary” while praising the work of the medical and nursing staff, particularly the ICU staff who he said “battle with death and save human lives every day.”
With Greece appearing to near its maximum ICU-bed capacity throughout the country, PM Mitsotakis noted that “it is a huge relief that next month we will have a significantly increased number of ICU beds, which will initially will be used in the struggle against coronavirus and, after the end of the pandemic, will be at the National Health System’s disposal.”
Physicians and health authorities across the country are increasingly concerned about a tougher road ahead as they continue to battle the coronavirus with the oncoming cooler weather and the flu season approaching.
In Athens alone, in the hard-hit region of Attica, two out of three ICU beds designated for coronavirus patients are now in use. It was reported that last Wednesday, 183 of the 205 non-coronavirus ICU beds in Attica health care institutions were occupied — a disturbing 89.3 percent occupancy rate.
A total of 66.3% of the ICU beds in Attica which have been set aside for Covid-19 patients were occupied at that same time, amounting to 81 of 122 total beds.
Matina Pagoni, the head of the union for doctors from Athens and Piraeus and who is chief of a clinic at Gennimata Hospital, stated that at one point last week, there were only two free ICU beds at her hospital, which has ten ICU beds.
Since Greece has been in the grip of a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, concerns have been mounting that the country could not cope with the number of patients who need intensive care treatment.
Greece’s Deputy Minister of Civil Protection, Nikos Hardalias, showed his concern on Saturday in a visit to the northern Greek city of Kozani, which was in a lockdown imposed as a result of a heightened amount of cases last week. Adding that he was worried about the situation in Ioannina, Thessaliniki and Kastoria as well, he singled out Ioannina in particular.
Describing the coronavirus situation there as “on a razor’s edge,” he admitted that the Greek health authorities were “very concerned” about the nation’s second largest city of Thessaloniki.
Although the Attica region is currently suffering the most from the second wave of the virus, a lockdown is not considered to be in the offing at present.
Hardalias stressed that “The situation is critical for the whole country,”while once again urging citizens to continue wearing face coverings and practice correct social distancing.
While on his Monday visit to Sotiria, PM Mitsotakis highlighted the importance of the addition of the new ICU beds, which were donated by the Greek parliament, pledging that the number of ICU beds per capita will reach the EU average by the end of 2020.
The first 12 of these ICU beds will be put into operation this week and another 12 will be added in two weeks, with all 50 going into service by the end of the year.
All the necessary staff for the new beds have been hired in the first two weeks, and more hirings are pending, according to the Prime Minister.