Paphos Dialysis Unit Expands – Dr Pavlos Georgiou talks to Cyprus in Style

PAPHOS DIALYSIS UNIT EXPANDS

MEET DR PAVLOS GEORGIOU

Medical Director of St. George & Blue Cross Dialysis Unit

PAPHOS DIALYSIS UNIT – Last summer, we spoke to Dr Antonios Economides, of St. George and Blue Cross Hospitals, to find out about the new Dialysis Unit in Paphos. Back then, Dr Antonios explained, “It is very exciting to be opening the new Renal Unit at St. George’s Hospital. The need for a suitable kidney unit in Paphos has existed for many years. We are pleased to be investing in and opening this facility, which will improve our patients’ lives. We first thought of the idea over ten years ago, but it has taken a while to come to fruition, due to a lack of space. Our main aim is to help the kidney patients in Paphos”.

When the new unit opened, a kidney specialist, Dr Pavlos Georgiou, joined the team to direct the department and treat the patients. In this article, we talk to Dr Pavlos about his first few months in his new position and how things are going at the unit.

NEPHROLOGIST IN PAPHOS – Dr Pavlos Georgiou was born and raised in the Pafos region. He studied to become a doctor at the Medical School at the University of Patras in Greece, after achieving first place in the Pancyprian examinations. After graduating with honours in 2006, he completed his pre-registration, including 6-months of training in Internal Medicine and Surgery respectively. After completing one year as an Interventional Radiologist trainee in 2008, he decided to specialise in Nephrology. Nephrology focuses on the diseases which affect the kidneys.

WHY DID YOU BECOME A DOCTOR?

It really comes from my childhood. My mother was a nurse when I was growing up, so I was closely associated with the medical profession from my early years. I had this idea that all doctors were like magicians, who could treat and always make patients better. I was fascinated by their work and wanted to become a doctor from a very early age so that I, too, could help people and cure them.

WHY DID YOU SPECIALISE IN NEPHROLOGY?

Renal issues have always been intriguing to me. Watching other doctors treat patients with kidney diseases and making big differences to their lives, was very appealing to me. We have the opportunity to enrich our patients’ lives and change the course of their illnesses.

WHERE HAVE YOU WORKED?

On my return from Greece in 2008, I was lucky enough to secure a place in the Department of Nephrology, at the Nicosia General Hospital. After completing my six-year specialty and a successful exam with the Athens Medical Board of Specialty Recognition, I was finally recognised as a consultant in Nephrology. I returned to Paphos, with my wife, in 2015, and started working in the private sector. In 2016, I started working at the Paphos General Hospital in the Dialysis Unit. This meant I was treating many patients from across the region, who had severe renal issues.

HOW IS IT GOING AT THE NEW RENAL UNIT?

The new Dialysis Unit, opened on the 14th of September in 2020. It is a very modern, state of the art dialysis unit, which has been developed, under the supervision of the Ministry of Health. We have fulfilled all the technical specifications and rules required to be in place before treating patients. The STGBC Paphos Dialysis Unit is equipped with twelve haemodialysis machines. We use the Cordiax 5008s machine, which is made by the worldwide leading dialysis company, Fresenius. They also provide all the consumables and technical support for the unit, as we aim for the best possible treatment for our patients.

HOW MANY PATIENTS USE THE UNIT?

It has been just over six months since we opened. We are already looking after a substantial number of haemodialysis patients. I genuinely believe that we are offering the best possible treatments to them, which, in turn, has helped change their lives. We see a lot of our patients because most of them require three four-hour sessions every week. Obviously, the treatment is tailored to each patient’s needs. Sometimes, the need for such a regular and frequent treatment is very invasive to their lives, so we try to make it as easy as possible, so they do not get unduly depressed. I see my patients as part of my extended family, as I see so much of them. My priority is not just to help them with their kidney health, but to also treat them as a whole. They have to spend a lot of time at the unit, and we endeavour to enable them to be as happy and as healthy as possible.

ANY PARTICULARLY INTERESTING CASES AT THE UNIT?

All our patients are important to us, but two cases that stand out over the last few months, include a drug overdose patient with a severe psychotic episode, and an end-stage renal disease patient, who was recovering from Hipec surgery; a form of heated or hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy. Both patients were treated successfully at our unit, which was very rewarding for my team and I.

HOW DO YOU HELP DISABLED PATIENTS?

It has been our pleasure to help disabled patients with transportation issues to the hospital. This was never available before, but we are so happy to provide this service to those who genuinely need it at this time. Anything we can do to make their lives easier has got to be worthwhile.

WHAT IS THE BEST PART OF YOUR JOB?

The best part, for me, is to do something that I really love that significantly helps our fellow human beings. This has always been my goal during my medical career, and it is enriching when you see our patients benefitting from their treatments.

WHAT IS YOUR BEST ADVICE FOR EVERYONE CONCERNING KIDNEY HEALTH?

Over the years, we have seen a rapid increase in dialysis patients, due to more cases of diabetes and hypertension. We need to keep in mind that patients susceptible of developing renal issues are patients with a medical history of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, family history of renal problems, or those who overuse Nsaid (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). My advice to all of my patients is to make sure you screen for renal issues, by doing a mid-stream urine test. This is a cheap, painless and easy-to-do test, which gives an early diagnosis of a renal disease, allowing it to be treated.

HOW HAS THE CURRENT PANDEMIC AFFECTED THE UNIT?

Unfortunately, we opened in the middle of the crisis. This affected and postponed our opening date and further plans. However, we have taken all precautions to ensure that our patients are protected, by introducing strict rules throughout the unit. Over 80% of our staff and patients have now been vaccinated. We also have an isolation room which, in the event that we have a positive patient or a suspicious patient for covid 19, means they can still be treated, until they receive a negative result. I believe, and hope, that we are nearing the end of this pandemic, due to the initiation of vaccinations across all age groups.

ANY FUTURE PLANS AT THE UNIT?

Due to the high demand for the treatment in Paphos, we have decided to expand the number of dialysis machines by six, which will take our total up to eighteen. This will increase our capacity from sixty to one hundred patients every week. It will also mean that we can offer dialysis for visiting tourists to the Island.

My main hope is that the new renal unit, alongside my medical and nursing team, will make a big difference and truly change our patients’ lives, and, in turn, their family members as well.

St. George’s and the Blue Cross hospitals joined forces in 2012, to create a unique and comprehensive medical facility for the Pafos region. Their combined professionalism, expertise and resources, together with their state-of-the-art medical equipment, means that they can offer the highest standard of medical care in Paphos. They work with many doctors across the island, who are leaders in their field. This includes over eighty doctors and a staff of over one hundred. As a consequence, the hospitals are a centre of medical excellence in Paphos. If you are considering relocating either from the UK to Cyprus or Cyprus to the UK, contact their team for further advice.

Contact St George’s & Blue Cross Hospital

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