Interreg CoofHea in Greece: “a true relief” for the Hospitals

A true relief”: this is the sentence that summarizes the results of Interreg Coofhea in Greece.

We have interviewed some representatives of two involved beneficiaries – Ioannis Georgiadis and Konstantina Barkoula from the Hospital of Saint Andrew, and Maria Malliou from the Hospital of Ilia – asking them which benefits their hospitals have received from the project.

Mr. Georgiadis from Saint Andrew told us that, when the pandemic arrived, the hospital was facing two main difficulties: the lack of equipment to respond to so many emergencies in the intensive care unit, and the lack of staff, especially nurses. The number of patients being admitted in the intensive care unit was so high that the hospital had great difficulty in providing adequate attention and care for all.

The worst thing is that, in order to purchase further materials or to hire staff, it was necessary to go through extremely long and complex administrative and financial procedures, which were incompatible with the current emergency. In addition to that, the spending capacity of the hospital itself was extremely limited.

Mrs. Malliou from the Ilia Hospital confirmed the same feeling: the equipment to purchase was very expensive compared to the spending capacity, and the procedures were so long as to make the effort impracticable.

Furthermore, since all hospitals were interested in purchasing the same products to counter the pandemic effects, the supply on the market was very limited compared to an ever-increasing demand. Electric beds, fans, respirators and monitors were basically impossible to find on the market.

CoofHea has been an initiative of great impact, “a true relief”, because – as Mrs. Malliou reports – it allowed the hospital to increase its spending capacity in the short term. Many instruments whose purchase had been put on hold were finally purchased through much faster procedures. The common guidelines for expenditures’ certifications made available through Coofhea have been useful for acting in a coordinated way and addressing common needs. Compared to what happened in the past, in a short period of time the intensive care units were equipped with high-value material, which allowed patients suffering from the most severe forms of Covid-19 to be treated effectively.

Regarding the topic of telemedicine, both hospitals believe that there will be more and more room for a hybrid system in the future. This solution is especially valid for those sectors of the population that have more difficulty in reaching hospital facilities continuously, or for remote places not easily accessible to the entire population (e.g. in the Greek islands).

In this regard, the ideas offered by CoofHea through the sharing of the HCasa good practice of the Puglia Region have been a great source of inspiration. According both to Mrs. Barkoula and to Mrs. Malliou, their hospitals will certainly borrow this system and integrate it into their, to be used also for the training and operational coordination of hospital staff.

The COOFHEA project – Cooperation for Health has seen the participation of 9 Greek hospitals: 4 based in the Western Greece (University General Hospital of Patras ‘Panagia I Voithia’, Patras General Hospital ‘Agios Andreas’, General Hospital of Ilia, Etoloakarnania General Hospital), 4 hospitals of the Ionian Islands (Corfu General Hospital, General Hospital of Zakynthos, General Hospital of Kefallinia, Lefkada General Hospital), besides the University General Hospital of Ioannina.

CoofHea was a new experience, the first project directly funded by an Interreg programme and thanks to this the two hospitals understood the importance of participating in international exchange programmes in the future.