Hygeia was the daughter of Asklepius and Epione, the god of medicine and the goddess of healing. Her four sisters were also worshipped in Ancient Greece for their divine powers of remedy, recuperation, healing and beauty.

And Hygeia herself? She was the personification of good health. So it’s apt that the first hospital in Greece to have received the Gold Seal of Approval by the Joint Commission International is named after the Mount Olympus deity – Hygeia General Hospital in Athens.

Andreas Kartapanis has a vision for Hygeia Group

Andreas Kartapanis is the CEO of Hygeia Group, which consists of Hygeia Hospital, Mitera General–Maternity–Pediatric Hospital and Leto Maternity Hospital in Greece, as well as Hygeia Tirana in Albania. “Since 2008, when I came on board as General Manager, the entire management team focused on getting Hygeia Hospital included in the 500 hospitals worldwide to have received the Gold Seal of Approval by JCI,” he comments.

“Working together with patience and persistence, we managed to get the hospital accredited in 2010. We’ve since been re-accredited twice – we have to be surveyed every three years – and we make a point of setting the bar higher every time, continuously improving our services while remaining focused on the patients who put their health in our hands.”

Andreas was promoted to the CEO role two years ago. He has plans to gain the same international recognition for the company’s three other healthcare facilities. “Our vision is for all of our hospitals to remain a point of reference for top-level healthcare services in Greece and Albania, and to be among the best hospitals in Europe.”

Hygeia Group sets an example for entire sector

Most of Hygeia Group’s revenue comes from private insurance companies and customers. However, it must also be the beneficiary of divine intervention from its namesake. While it continues to grow in reputation and services, the rest of Greece is still suffering the ill-effects of the debt crisis.

Andreas Kartapanis CEO of Hygeia Group

“We used suitable strategic tools and cyclic business growth, strong capital, habituated liquidity and rising profitability,” he responds. “Specifically, we expanded the strategic partnerships between the Group and the larger Greek and foreign insurance companies, offering the latest technology in medical procedures while ensuring large patient volumes.

“Despite the fact that we operate in a country that has been facing quite adverse socioeconomic conditions, with Greek entrepreneurship being marked by uncertainty, we remain true to our commitment and vision of investing in cutting-edge technology and quality medical equipment,” says Andreas. “We are innovative; it’s in our DNA. And we pride ourselves on setting the pace in Greece and serving as an example for the entire sector.”

Quite the responsibility if Andreas is right in saying that the healthcare sector is vital to Greece getting back on its feet. “Healthcare is not just a business sector but a living organism,” he says. “The main conditions for the anticipated recovery of the Greek economy include restructuring it and restoring the smooth operation of the market. Evidently, the prospects in the domestic healthcare sector, as well as in the immediate future, are closely related to the progress of the Greek economy.”

Innovation provides a competitive edge

Going by Hygeia’s latest innovation rollout, the market is destined to operate more smoothly than it ever has before. “Our first hybrid operating room in Greece is equipped with the latest imaging and medical devices for performing complicated surgical procedures under maximum safety, speed and reliability conditions,” he begins listing.

“The Da Vinci robotic system is the most advanced technology in medical robotic systems. The Gamma Knife Radiosurgery Department is considered a centre of excellence, and Hygeia Hospital’s Radiation and Oncology Centre is the most contemporary and well-equipped such centre in Greece and also one of
the best in Europe.

Hygeia Group

“The Transcatheter Heart Valve Department is the only one in Greece that can perform transcatheter aortic valve replacements, mitral valve repairs and perivalvular leak closes.

“We have been leading the way in the area of heart disease and, through the group of hospitals, we offer comprehensive services – from prevention and diagnosis to treatment and follow-up – for all cardiovascular conditions, and for all ages.”

It is this variety that Andreas says separates Hygeia from other healthcare providers. “Our main competitive edge is that, through our hospitals, which include general, maternity and children’s, we have become a point of reference for the entire family and for all ages,” he says proudly. “In addition to the JCI Gold Seal of Approval, we recently renewed our quality environment and occupational health and safety certifications for another three years in full compliance with the newest revisions of the ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 standards.

“Hygeia Hospital was also awarded the 2016 Best International Hospital for Greece by the International Healthcare Commission. Then we have Mitera Hospital, which has been certified as a baby-friendly hospital since 2015. Therefore, Mitera Hospital implements the practices required by UNICEF and the World Health Organization with regard to breastfeeding. What is more, in 2015 Mitera Breast Centre became a full member of the Breast Centres Network, the first international network of clinical centres exclusively dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.”

“At Hygeia Group, the people make all the difference.”

Andreas says none of this would be possible without the commitment of the 3,000 employees working across Hygeia’s broad portfolio. “At Hygeia Group, the people make all the difference,” he says. “Each employee carries out an important task, and the human resource division is responsible for labour relations, supporting our employees, and the mission of all the hospitals and companies.

“We try to recruit and keep the best employees by offering competitive salaries and benefits, implementing policies and procedures for fair treatment, communicating openly and honestly with our employees, paying attention to their views, promoting their development, recognising their efforts, and maintaining a positive and safe work environment.

The management of a hospital must show its human side to become more successful.

“All of our employees abide by the code of ethics and work with integrity and responsibility. I expect compliance with professional standards, laws and regulations. The constant vigilance shown by our staff and their families has created an awarded work environment.”

According to Andreas, ethical responsibility should start with the executive team. “Ethical management requires power, vision and patience. You must lead by example so that everything can be accomplished through teamwork and effort, especially in the healthcare sector. The management of a hospital must show its human side to become more successful.”

Managing the company with honesty & integrity

Andreas’s leadership philosophy has been cultivated over his two decades in the healthcare sector. “My experience in health care spans 17 years. I have worked in two public and two private hospitals and, during the 2004 Olympics, I was a director at the largest public hospital in Greece, the Evangelismos, which has more than 1,000 beds.

“In all the years that I have held senior executive positions, I have always been driven by my moral values. The key principles when managing a company are honesty and integrity. I am a great proponent of the concept of corporate governance and transparency in every strategic choice.”

Embattled Greece is clearly fortunate to have Andreas driving the healthcare sector forward through the Hygeia Group. And who knows, maybe some of the credit should be directed to the goddess of good health too.