Only child psychiatrist at Corfu Hospital resigns
CORFU. "In my opinion, child psychiatry services in the public sector are irreplaceable, but in order to function effectively for the maority of the population, they require a multidisciplinary team."
After five-and-a-half years, Sappho Karavia resigned from her position as a child psychiatrist. She was the only specialist at the Corfu Hospital.
She publicly announced her decision and the reasons for her resignation on social media:
"After five-and-a-half years, I made the very difficult but inevitable decision to resign from my position at the National Health System. The reasons have been voiced many times by my fellow doctors nationwide, especially those in much more demanding specialities, who have possibly endured far more than I have.
For the record, during all these five-and-a-half years, I was the sole child psychiatrist at the Corfu Hospital and generally within the public services of the island. This means I was responsible for numerous regular appointments, diagnostic assessments, medical consultations, interdisciplinary work, emergencies, legal cases and expert opinions related to children and adolescents, while working 12 mixed shifts per month, with almost no days off.
Throughout these five-and-a-half years, I never had a psychologist, speech therapist, specialised educator in my team... I only had one social worker and a health visitor a few days a week, and two occupational therapists, only one of whom remained in the past two years.
On the other hand, during these years (mainly due to the numerous and complex cases I was called upon to deal with, which required my professional development), I successfully completed two postgraduate degrees and two specialisations (at personal and financial cost). But most importantly, I came into contact with a multitude of wonderful children, adolescents and their families with mental health issues who truly enriched my life.
In my opinion, child psychiatric services in the public sector are irreplaceable. However, in order to function effectively for the maority of the population, they require a multidisciplinary team. They definitely do not need an exhausted child psychiatrist who can no longer provide assistance as envisioned when choosing to work within the National Health System.
Personally, I don't believe that the understaffing of our hospital and the resulting exhaustion of its staff is solely a matter of local administration (to be perfectly precise, during the tenure of the last two directors, two announcements were made for the position of a second child psychiatrist - none for other personnel - which were never filled... because why would a colleague come to beautiful but extremely expensive Corfu with the existing working conditions and without any substantial motivation?). The understaffing of regional hospitals is a matter of instituting policies at the institutional level.
I want to thank my adult psychiatrist colleagues for their unwavering support, the entire paediatric clinic of Corfu General Hospital for their exceptional and consistently fruitful collaboration, and especially my small but amazing team at the Medical-Paedagogical Centre (with a special mention to Anna Zenetou - the most perceptive and dedicated social worker, and Katerina Pangrati - the most capable and cool occupational therapist), who honoured me with their collaboration and friendship.
Above all, I feel the need to express my gratitude to all my precious young patients, with whom we embarked on this journey over the years.
An important chapter of my professional and personal life may be coming to a close, but inevitably, a new one begins. I contemplate that once again, I will have to walk this path alone, but I hope that now my guiding focus will primarily be therapeutic work with children, adolescents and their families."