The Greek government took over two private hospitals in Thessaloniki on Thursday in which transmission of the coronavirus has been particularly widespread.
The decision was reached after the private clinics failed to voluntarily provide 200 beds for Covid-19 patients despite appeals by the Health Ministry.
Public hospitals in Thessaloniki and other parts of northern Greece have been struggling to cope with the influx of coronavirus patients, adding beds from other wards and setting up isolation tents after reaching their official capacities.
The decision to enlist the two hospitals for two weeks in the national health system means that the state is undertaking the administrative management of the entire premises of the facilities, including all the beds of the private clinics, in addition to the administrative supervision of the staff which, starting Friday, will offer its services for the general public.
According to the head of the Panhellenic Association of Private Clinics, they refused to respond to the invitation by the government because they lack the facilities to isolate Covid-19 patients from others as well as the expertise and training to deal with the disease.
Private clinics say that they have been accepting non-Covid patients from public hospitals to help them cope with the influx of patients, but they were ill-prepared to set up specialized Covid-19 wards.