The Guardian, a British daily newspaper, has paid tribute to the way in which Greece dealt with the coronavirus pandemic, with testimonies from doctors on the frontline at Athens’ Sotiria Hospital explaining how the country did so well.
Dr. Yota Lourida, Infectious Diseases Specialist, explains how her department handled the crisis and the steps taken by the country to mitigate against potentially catastrophic outcomes. “Anyone who came through the hospital doors was considered a potential covid case. We worked non-stop admitting patients and with a high turnover,” she stated.
Stressing that Greece’s healthcare system is “old and decimated” due to the country’s 10-year economic crisis, she said it was a very big question how they would deal with the pandemic.
During the complete lockdown, she recalls it was very stressful because the doctors were trying to find the best way to handle cases. “Every day we had to come in and see what we had available, what more we needed to ask for, if it’s available, if it would get here today, tomorrow and so on.”
In addition to the physical fatigue, they also had to deal with the tremendous psychological fatigue. “Trying to make a hole in water,” she said. “I’ve never been called upon to deal with something, for which clearly there is no cure.”
The Guardian also interviewed Dr. Antonia Koutsoukou, Head of ICU, who stated that there were moments of great emotion. What hurt her the most was seeing patients die without saying goodbye to their families. “The fear,” she says, “was becoming like the neighbouring countries.” But according to her, the reason why Greece succeeded was because the healthcare system wasn’t pressurised and didn’t collapse.
“I think throughout this, all of us remembered why we started practicing medicine. Both the young doctors, and the older ones who are actively involved. We couldn’t be anywhere else.”
In closing, Dr. Yota Lourida stated that “I think it’s important to be prepared for a worst case scenario within the hospitals, but the real game is being determined outside of the hospitals.”