NEWS

Government enlists private hospitals in coronavirus battle

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The Health Ministry has enlisted the support of two private hospitals in the ongoing battle against the novel coronavirus, appropriating an additional 200 beds for Covid-19 patients in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, where transmission has been particularly widespread.

The government was compelled to force the issue by activating a recent law giving it control over private medical facilities during the pandemic, after an invitation for clinics to step forward and provide beds in the northern port city expired on Thursday night.

According to the head of the Panhellenic Association of Private Clinics, they refused to respond to the invitation because they lack the facilities to isolate Covid-19 patients from others and the expertise and training to deal with the disease.

“Human lives will be put at risk,” Grigoris Sarafianos told Skai TV on Friday morning, saying that Thessaloniki’s nine private clinics had offered to take in a total of 1,000 patients from the region’s coronavirus referral hospitals to help them cope with the influx of patients, but were ill-prepared to set up specialized Covid-19 wards.

“The staff needs to be trained. This is not something that can happen in a single day,” he added, saying that around 3,800 private nurses and doctors had been enlisted to the public health system in February, leaving private clinics with a shortage of experienced staff.

State hospitals in Thessaloniki and other parts of northern Greece have been struggling to cope with the influx of coronavirus patients, adding beds from other wards and setting up isolation tents after reaching capacity.