History of the old Psychiatric Hospital in Argostoli

Following on from our recent picture story regarding the old Psychiatric Hospital in Argostoli 

and seeing another image on FB we have found an interesting narrative of its history

Picture source – Facebook Post of Dimitris Spyropoulos‎

A state-of-the-art hospital, with innovative therapeutic applications

The Ground Psychiatric Hospital,which in no way acted as asylum mad, was a very modern for its time, a psychiatric hospital with a significant contribution to the Panellinion, but mainly in their Cephalonia, who by nature are somewhat strange and restless personality, the famous ” curl “. This building complex was inaugurated in 1931, inaugurated in 1933 by Panagis Tsaldaris and was completely destroyed by the 1953 earthquakes that struck our island and wiped out its culture, which under the intense influence of western European culture had to show many magnificent buildings and admirable institutions. Then the Ground Mf Psychiatric Hospital operated in wooden huts and toll until 1964, when it lost its driving lever, the psyche of the hospital, its Director,

During his 30-year-old operation, he was hospitalized with mentally ill or frenzied patients, as well as several of the participants in the fairs of Saint Gerasimos, the protector of the whole island, and especially the madmen and demoniac, as they were called patients having paranoid ecstasy or epileptic crises. Also, a sufficient number of patients with purely neurological conditions, such as progressive myelogenous sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, parathyroid neurological syndromes, have been hospitalized.

The Ground Psychiatric was not a collapsed soul. There were no buildings with irons and railings, but was devastated by modern pavilion buildings in a large flower garden, surrounded by a dense pine forest. It was not the last port of disturbed souls, but a modern hospital for psychopaths and neurological patients with pioneering therapeutic applications, acceptable even today, similar to many European similar nursing homes.

Inspirer and foundermodernist for the time of the psychiatric hospital of Greece and the Balkans was Plato Velia (1840-1918), a multi-millionaire Kefalonitis of the foreigners, who decided to return to his birthplace to spend his years. Plato Vegias was the descendant of Marouso Vegia, president of the Senate of the Ionian State, whose family is registered in the golden note of the nobles of the Venetian era. He lived most of his life away from his homeland. He dealt with trade and, after a very successful business career, with his own businesses in Odessa, Mumbai and London, he returned to Argostoli to live in his own manor house in the last years, a magnificent three-storey building that dominated the Union Square or Metalay Square, as the Kephalonians portrayed the name of the England-known Mautland, known for the cruelty of England. Plato Vegias died in Argostoli in 1918. In his last years he lived isolated by gazing at the gloomy and miserable living of the enclosed in the existing Asylum Crazy Near the Vallianion Hospital, a small building, a former warehouse of the English barracks, in the Maistratos region, to the west of the city. Perhaps these sad images gave Veya the incentive to establish a modern European psychiatric hospital at the site.

Despite his tremendous financial prosperity, Plato Velia was a lonely, cowardly Kefalonitic. They say that he often played groups and buses (English games) with a partner of an asylum. The price of defeat was to make the loser round the square carrying the winner on his back.

Here I add the famous joke when in the Carnival of 1915 the lawyer Nikos Travlos, who was characterized by the co-owners of the noble taod (idiotic) for his joyous jokes, with the “Apsons” (the former Courts of Justice) and parted with the Carnival Flys in Vallianos Central Square, winning the first prize of the Carnival Fiesta. In this way he wanted to express his support for the lifting of Greece’s neutrality in the First World War.

Vegia bequeathed his fortune, amounting to many millions of pounds, gold and gold and real estate in Greece and abroad, to the Vegeon Foundation, of which he was a life-long chairman of the Management Committee with members of the well-known members of the capital society. With these assets, the realization of the desire of the already deceased great benefactor, namely the erection of the Beast Psychiatry, began.

The vision of Vegawas the creation of a state-of-the-art Psychiatric Hospital, similar to the European. He bought a large piece of land, 25 acres, in the location of today’s General Hospital, east of the city, and prepared the plans for the erection of an imposing building. In 1918 the Foundation, according to the orders of the deceased, announces a competition for a scholarship Neurology Psychiatry (5 years) and a Microbiologist (3 years) in order to spend time in Europe to undertake the management of the psychiatric hospital. Condition for the scholarship, the candidates to be excellent in medicine and to know the French and German language. The Selection Board consisted of a Professor at the University of Athens, President Gerasimos Fokas, Professor of Surgery. The committee was represented by his personal friend, physician Richard Ledavinopoulos, as the sponsor’s representative. Of the three candidates, Marinos Metaxas won a scholarship for 5 years of retraining in France and Austria. After the scholarship, which covered other than those of education and a decent life abroad Marinos Metaxas was obliged to take over the management of the psychiatric hospital over a 20-year period. It is noteworthy that the doctor’s scholar Petros Kourvisianos, who was trained in France for three years, succeeded in the scholarship for the corresponding position of the Microbiologist. Marinos Metaxas was required to take over the Psychiatric Directorate for 20 years. It is noteworthy that the doctor’s scholar Petros Kourvisianos, who was trained in France for three years, succeeded in the scholarship for the corresponding position of the Microbiologist. Marinos Metaxas was required to take over the Psychiatric Directorate for 20 years. It is noteworthy that the doctor’s scholar Petros Kourvisianos, who was trained in France for three years, succeeded in the scholarship for the corresponding position of the Microbiologist.

Marinos Metaxas departed for France in 1919, where he remained until the end of 1920. He studied neurology and psychiatry in Paris, near the famous Professor Pier Marie, and quickly became assistant at the University Hospital of Montpellier, where he was hospitalized patients with neurological as well as psychiatric disorders. After a short stay in Kefalonia he left for Vienna in the beginning of 1921, where he remained until the end of 1924. He specialized in Psychiatry, the University Clinic of Vienna under Prof. Vagner von Jaurik and near the famous Sigmud Freud, where he trained in psychoanalysis and hypnotherapy. He also served as Assistant Professor Von Economou, who was the father of brain mapping.

He returned to Kefalonia and took over the management of the existing Psychiatric Hospital (Asylum of Madness) trying to improve living conditions and apply what he had learned abroad.

The foundation stone for the erection of the Bee Psychiatry was laid in 1925and was completed after six years. The imposing building, designed by Viennese architects, had nothing to jealous of the respective hospitals in Europe and was rightly considered the best of the Balkans. In 1931 Plato Vega’s vision became reality, and the Ground Psychiatric Hospital was put into operation under the management and scientific direction of Marinos Metaxas. The building housed five sections of 32 beds each, a total of 160 beds. There were separate sections for men and women for psychiatric light (paranoid, psychotic, to alcoholics and psychiatric events – delirium tremens) and a section with special isolation chambers lined with rubber for schizophrenia, manic-depressive, dementia, catatonic, etc. There was also a special department-Laboratory of Labor Therapy. In a separate building it housed the administrative offices, two outpatient (neurological and psychiatric), contemporary full manned Microbiology Laboratory which operated under the direction of Peter Kourvisia-mind after returning from France and Neurology. Besides these, it had a whole building complex for galleys, food warehouses, wardrobes and a full maintenance workshop.

The Ground Psychiatric Hospitalhe was not only sick with headaches, since his reputation quickly spread and he often had patients from all parts of Greece. Government of Metaxa, following the recommendation of Director M. Metaxas, was awarded the amount of ten million drachmas for expansion of the Psychiatry with a central idea of ​​the decentralization of all psychiatric asylums in Western Greece and the decongestion of the Dromokaite Hospital of Athens, with which there was also a close collaboration with Directors Gerasimos Giannoulatos and Ioannis Arkalidis. The foundation stone was laid in the summer of 1940 by Deputy Finance Minister A. Apostolides and Health Professor Gerasimos Alivazatos. The design of the buildings was carried out in accordance with the standards of the University Hospital of Vienna Die Grosse Psychiatric Hospitale. Unfortunately, the 1940s war frustrated the implementation of the plans.

Vegia had foreseen a great dealof the bequest to be deposited in gold at the Bank of England in order to secure the running costs of the Beze Foundation, since the state was unable to bear its costs. Unfortunately, the governing committee, under the chairmanship of the landowner agronomist Georgakos, and at the suggestion of Metropolitan Roumanis, who chaired the philanthropic branches of Kefallinia, drasticated the golden pounds in 1937 and deposited the amount to the National Bank of Greece. After the liberation, in 1945, under the ministry of Professor Alexandros Svolos, the deposition lost its value in many ways because the law did not provide for the exclusion of bequests or charitable foundations. From 1945 until the devastating earthquakes of 1953, the Ground Psychiatric Hospital was funded by the Ministry of Social Services, thanks to the efforts of Marinos Metaxas, of Kefalonia MP Babis Alivazatos, Arist. Dimitratos and Nikolaou Fokas. After the earthquakes, the Psychiatry continued to be funded by wooden hangars, but never nationalized and included in the public budget. After the death of Marinos Metaxas (July 5, 1964) he shut down and never worked again.

During his tethered pre-war operation, approximately 2,350 patients, mainly psychiatric and less neurological (eg patients with progressive universal paralysis or multiple sclerosis), were hospitalized. The majority of patients, about 75%, were transported from other regions of Greece and Athens.

The reputation of the Byzantine Empire had surpassed the boundaries of Kefalonia. Characteristic of his reputation is this: during the war of 1940-41, the satirical columns of the Athenian newspapers, satirizing Mussolini, prompted the Italian dictator to be enclosed in the quarters of the Midship Psychiatric Hospital!

The scientific activity of the Bee Psychiatric Hospitalis characterized as groundbreaking. Marinos Metaxas did not hesitate to apply the modern scientific methods that prevailed in Europe. Among these is the originality of the application of shock to schizophrenia. In 1939 his experimental work was published for the first time in Greece (together with the laboratory of Physiology of the University of Athens under the direction of Professor S. Donta) with Lavender malaria plasmids which caused a high fever of 41 ° – 42 ° (a method of pyrethrophy in schizophrenic patients) . This method was a precursor treatment of electroshock. In 1948, Marinos Metaxas applied almost simultaneously with Dromokaitio electric shock therapy using a prototype machine of Greek manufacture of the Electro Athanas family. However, due to the lack of a permanent anesthesiologist, the application of the electric shock to the Earth did not continue, except in a few cases with the anesthesiologist at the manufacturing company. The scientific achievements of the Begio Psychiatrie were published, in collaboration with psychiatric clinicians in Europe, in reputable medical journals abroad, particularly in Vienna and Paris.

Recently in the storage area of ​​Vallianio Hospital, a prospective employee guarded after the earthquake of 1953, the Occupational Book of the Begium was discovered, as well as the portrait of Plato Velia. The Large Book of Patients is a precious historical medical presumption, original for the time, but even for the present medical time of our country, because apart from the patients’ data, the diagnosis of their illness, the course of their health and the final its outcome, a photographic depiction of them. An attempt is made to transfer this Book to the General Archives of the State-Archives of Prefecture of Kefallinia.

Quitting,I wish and hope that, in the difficult times that we are experiencing and who will sooner suffer our mental health, Cephalines will find Vedas’ vision and generosity to create a neuropsychiatric clinic in the existing Vallian Hospital. I would say that this is a sacred obligation. Let us not forget that the Valliani Hospital was raised to the existing foundations of the Beirut Psychiatric Hospital (which was never built due to a lack of money) in the space given to it by the Bega Foundation’s governing committee and by the suggestion of Marinos Metaxas shortly before his death, with no consideration but with the wish to include a ward for psychiatric and neurological patients at the then-erected hospital, as is the case today in all the general hospitals in Europe.

Gerasimos M. Metaxas Omot. Professor of Orthopedics at the University of Athens

Published in the magazine KEFALONITIKI PROGRODOS

 

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