Char­ity funds mo­bile med­i­cal units serv­ing re­mote is­lands

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY IOANNA FOTIADI

Res­i­dents of Greece’s re­mote is­lands in the east­ern Aegean, who have been suf­fer­ing a short­age of doc­tors and ferry con­nec­tions to the main­land as a re­sult of cost-cut­ting mea­sures, have now bet­ter ac­cess to pri­mary health­care thanks to a char­i­ta­ble dona­tion by the Stavros Niar­chos Foun­da­tion for two sta­teof-the-art mo­bile med­i­cal clin­ics staffed by 16 vol­un­teer doc­tors spe­cial­iz­ing in dif­fer­ent key fields.

Launched on Jan­uary 17, the mo­bile units’ first stop is far-flung Kastelorizo, 125 kilo­me­ters east of Rhodes, be­fore they move on to Amor­gos, Ka­sos, Asty­palaia, Pat­mos, Fole­gan­dros and Siki­nos.

“The aim is to cover the med­i­cal and di­ag­nos­tic needs of 55,000 res­i­dents on 35 is­lands,” the sci­en­tific su­per­vi­sor of the scheme, Panayi­o­tis Koulou­varis, an or­tho­pe­dic sur­geon, told Kathimerini. “Over the next five years we will visit the is­lands at six-week in­ter­vals and stay at each stop for be­tween five to eight days.

“Quite a few res­i­dents thought it was a joke when they first heard of the mis­sion,” Koulou­varis added.

Trav­el­ing ahead of the doc­tors was a team of elec­tri­cians and plum­bers who made all the nec- es­sary re­pairs to ex­ist­ing clin­ics that have been ne­glected due to bud­get cuts so they are in full work­ing or­der.

The two mo­bile units are fully equipped with some of the lat­est equip­ment in di­ag­nos­tics, such as a dig­i­tal mam­mo­gram sys­tem and a bone den­sit­o­m­e­try unit.

“Pa­tients are in­formed in ad­vance of the dates when we will be vis­it­ing their is­land and can book an ap­point­ment elec­tron­i­cally,” said Koulou­varis. “One of our ob­jec­tives is to en­sure that all women have mam­mo­grams and Pap tests and all men have their prostates checked, to­gether, of course, with a gen­eral checkup.”

Pa­tients can also keep in touch with their doc­tors once they have moved on to a dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tion as the mo­bile units are equipped with a data­base that will in­clude ev­ery pa­tient’s per­sonal file as well as a com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tem.

When the units are in At­tica, they will con­tinue to re­ceive pa­tients at the Olympic Vil­lage Hos­pi­tal in Vari­bombi, north of Athens. Those in­sured with the Na­tional Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Health­care Pro­vi­sion (EOPYY) have to pay a small fee of 3 eu­ros, while in co­op­er­a­tion with the NGO Prak­sis, doc­tors will also sched­ule vis­its to home­less shel­ters and im­mi­grant cen­ters.

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