Wednesday, July 1, 2009

BBC reports "veterinary approach"used in Greek mental care facilities

A BBC reporter writes that twenty years after a scandal about care conditions in Greek mental care facilities, she witnessed patients tied up in a building in so much disrepair that it appeared to be abandoned.

Chloe Hadjimatheou went to the Women's Clinic at the Dromokraitio Psychiatric Hospital in Athens, which houses about 300 patients. When she saw wide leather straps and buckles next to the beds, the head nurse told her:


"We have to keep some patients tied at night to prevent them wandering around and waking the other patients," Head Nurse Maria Makraki explains.

Dr Astrinakis interrupts her: "Just like a dog you tie up to stop it wandering off… this could be considered the veterinary approach to psychiatry."

He points to buckets below the beds that act as make-shift toilets.

...

Nurse Makraki tells me that staff shortages mean that there are usually only two nurses caring for around 30 patients.

That is half of what is required to provide basic care.

Stella Galianos, a psychologist, estimates that in every clinic at Dromokraitio hospital there are around three to four people tied to their beds.

I ask her if the woman I saw could end up tied to her bed for years.

"Yes definitely."

And, although the Athina Residential Home was pointed out to the reporter as an example of reform, the staff there went unpaid for six months last year. In light of the issues, the European Union has told Greece that "if it does not come up with roadmap for psychiatric reform by next month, EU funding will be cut from social projects across the board."


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