ATHENS (CBSDC) – Greece’s economic issues are well-known to most of the world. Nowhere is the situation more apparent, though, than within the country’s borders.
The reality of the situation has caused Greek institutions to take drastic measures in order to stay afloat.
One hospital in Athens reportedly threatened to refuse a mother the right to her own newborn child until she was able to pay the cost of her Caesarean section.
According to the BBC, the bill came to 1,200 euros, or $1,500 in American currency.
Doctor Katerina Stypsanelli, who works for a sister hospital, told the network that while the hospitals would have simply forgiven such debts in the past, they are now forced to make such demands of even their poorest of patients.
“It is not the hospital’s fault,” Stypsanelli, who also works with Women Against the Debt, told the BBC. “It is the government’s policy and budget tightening which is forcing their hand.”
The mother, identified only by the alias Anna, does not qualify for free non-emergency health care. Such coverage is allegedly only available to those who are either employed or are not delinquent on their taxes.
“Who wouldn’t be scared by that [situation]?” Anna said to the BBC. “You have just given birth and they want to keep hold of your baby if you can’t afford to pay? Don’t these people have children of their own?”
The same threat was made by the hospital when Anna gave birth to her first child less than two years ago. At that time, however, she was employed and able to find the money.
This time around, without employment, Anna feared the worse until Stypsanelli and WAD intervened.
“I made a call to the director of the hospital and he gave the order to allow her to take the baby but told her to pay in installments,” she told BBC. “It is every woman’s right to access health care and it is every woman’s right to have a child. These policies against those down on their luck and vulnerable are just shameful.”
Stypsanelli, who noted that Anna’s case is not unique, added to the BBC, “This is not a pawn shop where we hold your ring as a deposit.”