THESSALONIKI – The western suburbs of Thessaloniki had long been in urgent need of a modern hospital, but disputes overshadowed the laying of the foundation stone in 1993 and the inauguration of the new facility in August 1999. Questions arose in connection with the funding, management, administration and operation of the hospital, and the proper management of the European Union and Greek funds to the tune of some 20 billion drachmas (59 million euros) needed to complete and equip the hospital. This was despite the fact that it was built promptly and notwithstanding the acknowledged contribution of brothers Nikos and Leonidas Papageorgiou, who donated $30 million toward its completion. Great responsibility The outpatients’ clinics were the first to go into operation, and all of them should be working by the end of the year, if the dispute between the university doctors and the health ministry is brought to an end soon. «We are ready to cooperate,» says hospital resident Nikos Papageorgiou, who wants decisions made soon. «Those who are handling the matter on behalf of the university doctors will bear a great responsibility if they force us to go ahead without their cooperation.» The public spaces, wards, outpatients’ clinic, laboratories and clinics of the Papageorgiou Hospital are an unprecedented sight by Greek standards. The high-quality service, cleanliness and order are plain to see and acknowledged by most patients and visitors. So far, the hospital is working at 60 percent capacity. It leads the Greek field in some respects, with 40 MRI and 60 CAT scanners. The radiotherapy unit can treat 120 patients with its state-of-the-art equipment, and the nephrology unit has one of the most advanced dialysis units in Europe. Last year the hospital performed 21,000 dialysis procedures, as many as four Athenian hospitals put together, according to the unit director, Giorgios Sakellariou. Within a year another 11 clinics are expected to be in operation. So far, 400 of the Papageorgiou Hospital’s 750 beds, 10 laboratories and six radiology diagnostic departments, 60 outpatients’ clinics and 26 evening clinics are in use. At least 100 staff and about 40 doctors will be needed in the first phase.