ATHENS – A study about health care in Greece has found inequality between the area about the capital and the rest of the country and high numbers of deaths from critically patients outside Intensive Care Units (ICUs.)
The New Democracy government had nearly doubled the number of ICU beds during the COVID-19 pandemic but those have been overwhelmed by rising numbers of cases of patients needing intensive care and unable to get it.
With the government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis not moving to recruit private clinics or make vaccinations mandatory, some patients are being treated in makeshift ICUs instead.
Athens Medical School Professor Sotiris Tsiodras, who, as a member of the government’s advisory panel of doctors and scientists had become a familiar and soothing presence on TV when the pandemic began, worked with Assistant Professor of Public Health at Cyprus’ European University Theodore Lytras on the study.
Greece had already seen many cases of hospital infection deaths and now the facilities are being overrun with COVID cases, especially those who are critically ill as the pandemic surged, driven by anti-vaxxers spreading it.
Based on the data, the researchers conclude that a total of 1,535 deaths could have been avoided if fewer patients had been hospitalized in the National Health System (less than than 200 intubated), if all were in ICUs in Attica, which includes Athens and the surrounding area.
The research, based on the data of intubated COVID-19 patients from Sept. 1 2020 to May 6, 2021 and published in the Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, noted Greece’s health system had improved but services suffering because of the numbers of patients being admitted, and so much attention give to COVID patients and the risk of treating them outside ICUs.
That has seen a higher death rate among those in ICUs, most of them elderly and unvaccinated, and that the risk is getting higher, increasing an average of 1.25 times when there are more than 400 ICU patients. It’s around 700 now.
The risk will jump to 1.57 times higher if there are more tha 800 although those in hospitals in Athens and the Attica prefecture have a better chance of surviving, reported Kathimerini.
The probability of deaths for patients in ICUs and hospitals in the second-largest city of Thessaloniki is 35 percent higher and 40 percent elsewhere around the country, showing the inequity gap in the quality of care.
“This highlights the need for more substantial strengthening of healthcare services, focusing on equity and quality of care besides just expanding capacity,” the report said of the problems.