ATHENS – In the presence of the Co-President of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), Andreas Dracopoulos, the Foundation’s new donations, amounting to more than 33 million euros, were announced on Wednesday, November 8, at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC). The announcement was made in the context of the opening of the SNF’s new monthly series entitled Dialogues.
Dracopoulos with Health Minister Andreas Xanthos and Deputy Health Minister Pavlos Polakis discussed the newly announced SNF donations, worth more than 200 million euros.
Xanthos referred to the asymmetry between needs and resources in the present social context. Polakis spoke about the importance of the contribution of the upper middle class through donations to society, while Drakopoulos revealed the collaboration that will take place with the architect Renzo Piano in the construction of new hospital units.
In September 2017, following discussions between the Ministry of Health and the SNF, the Foundation announced its intention to fully support a series of infrastructure and education projects, which include, among others, the construction and outfitting of a new building for the General Hospital of Komotini, the construction and outfitting of a Children’s Hospital in Thessaloniki, the reconstruction and complete outfitting of the Nursing Sisters’ building at Evangelismos Hospital, with the purpose of operating as the Chair of the University’s Faculty of Nursing, as well as strengthening the capability and efficiency of the National Center for Emergency Care’s (EKAV) air ambulance services.
This new initiative comes as an addition to a previous SNF grant to EKAV, currently in its final implementation phase, which covers, among others, the procurement of 143 state-of-the-art ambulances as well as their full service and maintenance for a period of 8 years and the digital upgrade of its operations center, totaling €14 million. Those present in the SNFCC on the day of the event had the opportunity to see up close the first ambulances provided by the SNF’s grant. The new ambulances will shortly be distributed throughout the country.
Referring to a progressive meeting with the Ministers regarding donations, Dracopoulos said that the SNF always sees “donors as partners” and wishes to learn from them “what will truly have the right effect, and which are the right needs.” He also characterized his discussion and cooperation with the ministers as “flawless.”
The project, said Dracopoulos, “is for the general good” and will be “in full transparency to deliver it according to the model of the SNFCC, for the good of the country, for the good of society.”
Health Minister Xanthos, for his part, described the SNFCC as “emblematic” and the intervention of the SNF “very important and emblematic in the field of culture.” He added that what has been announced is a critical intervention in the field of Health and the proper functioning of this system.
The Minister referred to the impact of the health crisis and described the period we are in, a period of “asymmetry between needs and available resources.” As a result, he said, “we must at this time find it crucial to seek synergies, to seek serious planning, and method and consistency in its implementation.”
Assistance, he said, of large private donations, such as that of the SNF, is crucial. It is “an intervention of solidarity, not with the health ministers, not with the government” but with “the society and the needs of the people,” he concluded.
Deputy Minister of Health Polakis also described “the very large and emblematic” SNF donation. It is a “synergy to strengthen the public health system after 5 years of permanent desertification and underfunding.”
Polakis commented that “clearly we also need the donations from representatives of the upper middle class of our country… to allocate a part of their profits by giving back to society in this way.” He also pointed out that this should be done in the context of a design, and that is why “I want to thank Mr. Andreas Dracopoulos personally, because the design has changed in principle according to the priorities we set.”
Dracopoulos also mentioned the SNFCC architect, Renzo Piano, “who understands the new way of architecture for hospitals where the main purpose is respect for the patient and relatives.” He also revealed that there would be cooperation with Piano for the Hospital in Komotini, Thessaloniki, and, as he said, “if we move forward, and for the building in Evangelismos.”
In addition, to a question about whether the state can handle donations for the construction of hospital units, Dracopoulos replied in the affirmative, saying: “We often hear the question of how can the state run it? The answer is in front of you: it runs. With proper partnerships, transparent, hard work, everything is done. And sometimes we underestimate ourselves as Greeks.” He concluded, “a proof of all this is the Cultural Center, which works perfectly.”
Through the Dialogues series of events, the SNF intends to present, among other things, people whose work and actions inspire and hope to encourage debates on key issues around the world.
The event was attended by Aris Thessaloniki basketball coach Panagiotis Giannakis, the administrator of the 401 General Military Hospital of Athens Panagiotis Kotileas, the artistic director of the National Opera’s Alternative Stage of Alexandros Efklidis, Nikolia Apostolou- SNF scholarship recipient studying at Columbia University School of Journalism, and other recipients of SNF donations.
Giannakis, the “dragon” of Greek basketball, said he was honored to have attended “such a nice event,” and noted that a coach should get into the minds of the players to “discover their own individual skills.” He continued, “All people have many skills, but often the mind does not let us discover them because we see things mainly for utilitarian purposes.”
Dracopoulos said, “The development of the SNFCC has demonstrated the multiple benefits that a transparent collaboration between the public and the private sector can bring about for society. Thus, with the new Initiative to enhance the Health sector in Greece, we look forward to an open process whose sole purpose is to promote the common good. We are particularly happy and proud that during these very intense times, the SNF continues to find new, distinguished partners and meet with older, familiar ones, on a common path in an effort to make our world a better place to live. The world is our neighborhood.”