Low-profile heroes

Greece has been hit by an unprecedented fiscal crisis that has pushed the state to its limits. However, in spite of this, there are still people out there who brave the difficulties, doing their job with utter professionalism and great spirit.

Take the example of the doctors and nurses on duty at the Red Cross state clinic in Athens on a recent Saturday night. You could see young people carrying out their work without griping, but with a dark sense of humor that made light of the problems around them. The medics had not been paid for working extra shifts for the last few months and there were many shortages in supplies, but the system continued to work, despite the chaos created by patients and relatives.

I will not forget the group of nurses who were joking about their back pay and the overall mess. Nevertheless, I got the impression that the system worked, that this was not some Third World clinic.

On the other hand, I could not help thinking how much better it would be if the ability and creativity of these people could be put to use in the context of serious management. In other words, I was thinking what would happen if real professionals were hired in place of party-appointed hospital directors.

Or take the example of the Sifnos health center. It is staffed by one doctor, who works there every day. She is patient and she never complains. The center has run out of basic supplies such as gauze bandages. She has come up with an original solution. Every time she writes a prescription, she refuses to take any money and instead urges patients to leave any contribution with the local pharmacy so the health center can purchase the necessary supplies.

The health center on this beautiful island in the Cyclades group seems to work thanks to this peculiarly Greek solution.

Some people like to say that extreme pressure brings out the worst as well as the best in Greeks — which is what enables them to survive.

Perhaps they are right. I am sure that similar examples can be found across the country, in dozens of hospitals and health centers, in military camps, police stations and schools. In light of the crisis, there is not much we can do for these people. But the least we can do is take our hats off to them.