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Letter from Athens: No COVID-19 Riff-Raff Wanted in Greek Private Hospitals

December 5, 2020

It's not much of a stretch between U.S. President Psycho – who's responsible for more American deaths than Hitler – hiding the truth about COVID-19 and letting the fatalities rise to protect himself politically and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos “Blue Blood” Mitsotakis waiting too long to commandeer private hospitals and conscripting private doctors as a second wave overwhelmed public hospitals. 

Mitsotakis, rightfully applauded for an early spring lockdown that saved lives and held down the number of cases, was too long playing Nero's Fiddle – or Cithara – as irrefutable evidence grew that the resurgence was out of control. 

He wanted to balance saving lives against saving the economy, which couldn't sustain a second shock lockdown after the first saw so many businesses close or put on the precipice. But he had to act after his health advisory committee warned Greece was losing the Battle of Thessaloniki to the Coronavirus. 

He admitted he waited too long also to bring a second lockdown even as the death toll passed 2,000 and cases jumped the 100,000 mark. 

Public hospital Intensive Care Units (ICUs) and ventilators neared full capacity but still he delayed his promise to have the state take over public hospitals and doctors – two of which had to be ordered to help. 

Could it be because those facilities are reserved for his people? You know the type because they have private insurance whose costs are prohibitive for workers, pensioners, and the poor hammered by a decade of pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed benefits and firings, or they're so rich they don't need insurance. 

It just wouldn't do for an oligarch or their ilk to be in a private hospital and look around and see a mere mortal in the next bed. Those ICUs and ventilators were being reserved for those who really deserve them: the wealthy who hide their money in secret foreign bank accounts and use Greece as a playground. 

What Mitsotakis should have done was simple but since he couldn't confront the Church – he and Archbishop Ieronymos had a maskless meeting while the Premier ordered everyone else to wear one – you couldn't expect him to take on the kind of people he shares martinis with at those posh parties you can't attend. 

It was this: tell the managers of private hospitals that until the pandemic is over that those facilities are now public hospitals. They'll get paid just the same but have to hold their nose and take in people to help the public health sector cope. 

Instead, patients were being airlifted to Athens from northern Greece because hospitals in the country's second-largest city were filling, the transfers swelling the numbers too in the capital. 

Unlike money-bleeding public hospitals which during a near decade-long economic and austerity crisis didn't have toilet paper, private hospitals and clinics are money makers, and they didn't want to give up that privilege even during a pandemic, until finally forced to do so. 

It wasn't until Nov. 19 – eight months into the health crisis and 12 days after a delayed second lockdown was brought – before two private clinics in Thessaloniki were finally taken over after they refused to voluntarily help. 

Some clinics were being assigned non-COVID-19 patients to help free space in public hospitals because the private facilities didn't want really sick people, and there weren't reports whether any in Athens were being required to join the fight to save lives. 

The Health Ministry said its request for private hospital beds to be made available voluntarily for the treatment of COVID-19 patients in northern Greece, where the outbreak is the most severe, had been rejected, said The Associated Press.

“Despite the effort, the finding of a mutually acceptable solution was not possible,” the ministry said, requiring them to be taken over. Not good enough for these callous types. They should have been appropriated permanently. 

The head of Greece's union of private clinic owners, Grigoris Sarafianos, said that, “we don't want to become centers of transmission,” which is code for not wanting the great unwashed there, complaining that doctors and nurses would need special training to deal with COVID-19 patients. So did those in public hospitals, who didn't moan. 

The government's call for private doctors was ignored apart from a handful of those willing to help save lives, the rest too busy counting money in their offices where they only accept cash as premier tax cheats and whose non-Hippocratic oath is “First, Take The Money.” 

It wasn't enough for private facilities to refuse to help in what was the biggest fight since The Battle of Winterfell in Game of Thrones, the living against the Armies of the Dead. 

They profited off misery, charging as much as 120 euros ($143) for COVID-19 tests that should have been free at public hospitals as the government said the vaccines – safe or not – will be once they're distributed to the first guinea pigs. 

That led Commerce and Consumer Protection Secretary General Panagiotis Stamboulidis to set a cap of 40 euros ($48) for PCR tests and 10 euros ($12) for rapid antigen tests, and you didn't hear the private clinics saying special training was needed for those. 

The response from the private gougers was to warn they wouldn't give the tests unless they were allowed to keep bleeding people, so let's make those public too. 

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