By Peter Stevenson
MEMBERS of Volunteer Doctors Cyprus have treated around 350 people at their free clinic in Nicosia since it opened three months ago, while two more, one in Paphos and one in Polis are due to open today.
Limassol also has a free clinic, which was opened only last month, and plans have been drawn up to create one in Paralimni.
Yesterday the doctors expressed their enthusiasm at how well the clinics have been doing and said that if the need arose a second clinic could also be opened in the capital.
The Nicosia clinic was set up on Antigonou 49 street near the Taht El-Kale mosque, and is open to the public between 9am and 3pm the weekends. It was opened on March 9. It had taken four months to compile their list of volunteer doctors and to equip the clinic.
“We started off with 12 doctors and now we have 60 in Nicosia of which 24 are pathologists, six are paediatricians and 30 are general practitioners,” head of Volunteer Doctors George Macriyiannis said.
He said none of the doctors approached had refused to offer their services other than a few colleagues who had family obligations and could not spare the time.
The clinic can deal with both immediate and chronic problems as it is fully equipped with a cardiograph and an ultrasound.
“Our visitors include low-income earners and children, and even pensioners who are allowed free healthcare at public hospitals, prefer to visit us because we are open at the weekends,” he added.
Macriyiannis said that state outpatient clinics were closed at weekends and the emergency department at the general hospital was usually packed, and has an average waiting time of six hours.
The clinic in Limassol operates on Saturday from 9.30am until 1.30pm and on Sundays between 10am and 1.30 pm. In Paphos they will be open between 9am and 3pm on the weekends and in Polis it will be open two days a week between 3pm and 6pm.
Larnaca does not have a volunteer doctors clinic as physicians in the coastal town have made arrangements to see the needy free of charge in their own time, according to Macriyiannis.
“If there is an increase in demand we have already considered opening up a clinic in Livadhia [in the Larnaca district],” he said.
The usual course of action is to ask the patient for their unemployment records or their last payslip but the majority are not asked to prove their status as it makes both parties feel awkward, he added.
“Even in cases when patients are not eligible we will still examine them. We do not turn anyone away,” Macriyiannis said.
It is estimated that every weekend the clinic in Nicosia is visited by around 35 people, and when that number rises to 60 each weekend, a second clinic will most likely be opened.
Contact Numbers: Nicosia – Dr. George Macriyiannis 99435735, Limassol – Dr. Andreas Prokopiou 99448347, Paphos Dr. Yioula Loizidou 99585033, Polis – Dr. Marios Theodorou 99393226, Paralimni – Dr. Maria Adamou 96604408.
Until last year, and this year when Cyprus was really badly hit by the economic crisis, Volunteer Doctors Cyprus was better known for its good works in international war zones and areas of the world hit by natural disasters such as the Haiti earthquake and the Indonesian tsunami, plus offering assistance in poverty-stricken areas of Africa.