OPINION

Ailing hospitals

On any visit to one of the major state hospitals, one is struck by a state of absolute chaos. People come and go. Patients, relatives, doctors, nurses, technical and administrative personnel are all in a hopeless tangle. In the rooms, every patient is flanked by three or four relatives who are meant to offer comfort but, in truth, end up being a stressful burden for the majority of patients. In the corridors, one can see visitors looking for an open window or balcony for a smoke, hanging around with food in Tupperware containers, and most of them speaking loudly, as if in a cafe and not a medical facility. By contrast, if you happen to visit the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center you will come across a completely different picture. On entering the clinic, the receptionist will ask you whether you have made an appointment and then help you find the office or doctor you need. No home food or smoking, only strictly observed visiting hours, quiet and order. The question is: Why is the contrast so strong? What is missing from the other hospitals? They are obviously run differently, managed according to different rules and principles that have been in place since the Onassis Center was founded. Why can’t other hospitals be run according to the same guidelines? These questions were, once again, prompted by New Democracy’s much-discussed health policy program. It seems fair to say that before all the big changes and reforms are carried out, the mere implementation of the Onassis Center’s rules in other hospitals would radically change the environment in state medical facilities while improving the lot of the patients as well as the hospital’s own personnel. The Onassis Center, an Athens hospital, shows the way. Before moving on with big and complex measures, we should first carry out some pretty basic tasks.