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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Odyssey of the Uninsured and Indigent Patient



Helliniko 20 June 2013
PRESS RELEASE
The Odyssey of the Uninsured and Indigent Patient

Every day volunteer community clinics receive urgent appeals from uninsured and indigent patients for care and for medications, since without this support the alternative can lead to death.
Increasingly typical is the adventure of a 52 year old uninsured cancer patient who was diagnosed in the emergency care section of the Metaxa Cancer Hospital with metastatic cancer of the kidney.  Because of the critical condition of the patient she was operated on immediately – fortunately the hospital did not charge her for this.  The patient was instructed to continue her therapy with a medication – SUTENT of 50 mg – a particularly expensive medication which the hospital did not have available.  And for that reason, the patient came in contact with MCCH. 
An small Odyssey started immediately to secure this medication.  The cost was exorbitant for the simple interested citizen who wanted to help.  The cost to hospitals (the lowest cost) for one box is 3,800 euros and the patient needed two boxes – for a total of 7,600 euros.  It was impossible to believe that a young woman would be left completely without help, to die.  We issued a public appeal for this medication which is what we do in such cases.
And here is the marathon result:  twelve pills were found through community services at Metaxa Hospital, ten pills were found at the Volunteer Community Solidarity Clinic of Thessaloniki, a pharmacy from central Athens contributed 30 pills and pharmacists of the World gave us two boxes of 25 mg each, to complete the therapy.  In addition, we were informed that a public hospital (which didn’t want its name made public for obvious reasons) had set aside 40 pills of 25 mg – but finally they were not needed.
In this case, the crisis was met by the constant search of the volunteers from two community clinics and the Community Services department of Metaxa Hospital, and thanks to the social awareness of pharmacists as well as other citizens who rushed to the telephone and promptly communicated with The Metropolitan Community Clinic at Helliniko.
We have to admit that we abhor such a shockingly cool reaction to the needs of this patient who was forced t undergo an epic odyssey to find the drug that would extend her life - a life that NO ONE has the right to truncate just because she is uninsured!
We wonder what our Minister of Health, Mr. Andrea Lykourentzos, would do if a relative or friend of his were in a similar situation.  Would he simply let them die, or would he send them to a volunteer clinic to search frantically up and down to find the necessary medication?  Won’t the Ministry of Health stop beating about the bush and finally give us all an unambiguous answer – as clear as a bell.  What will happen to the thousands who stagger about without insurance?  Do we decimate them all?  Does the bell have to toll slowly but unrelentingly for every single one of them?  Won’t someone please answer this vital question? 

Is there no public prosecutor in the whole country to point his finger, cry out “J’accuse” and investigate WHO is at fault that so many people perish?  In this country today, does nothing remain standing?

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