DIAGNOSING NONNA

There is a lot to be said about Greece’s public hospitals. A single glance, for example, at Deputy Minister of Health Pavlos Polakis is enough for red flags to rise.

Evaggelismos is the largest hospital in the country and what happens during its on-call time can not be fathomed if not witnessed: a rally of pain unlike others, it is perhaps the largest congestion of people forced to come together in Athens. No one wants to be here, patients, families, doctors and nurses alike.

A landscape too painful to capture, I instead shifted my focus to the quiet hours of the hospital, the early mornings when the overnight shift of nurses begin to pack their bags while the morning shift put their cigarettes our and prepare for a long 8 hours.

In the background, one can always hear the ringing white noise oxygen masks produce, as well as the occasional screech of wheels down the corridor, perhaps a patient being wheeled to the fourth floor to prepare for surgery.

My grandmother has been in and out of Evaggelismos for the last year and a half, after being diagnosed with leukaemia. To spare the horrendous details it is fair to say that every visit, no matter its length, has been soul-crushing. Overworked staff with a near dangerous lack of empathy, non-existent organization, understocked supplies, walls, heaters and beds whose expiration date is long past due - the list goes on.