The Sanatorium, like all the social institutions on the island of Mytilini, is headed by one of the island’s three Bishops. The inhabitants of Agiassos, the town near the Sanatorium, share strong religious beliefs, where they look up to and at the same time fear this all-powerful Bishop who has control over his subjects on both spiritual and material levels. In this isolated region that operates according to feudal rules everything emanates from the Bishop, life and death. “ If the Bishop is unhappy with us he can make our lives very difficult, we try to please him ”, says a farmer working in the Agiassos olive groves.
In 1995, the Sanatorium took on thirty new employees who, for the first time, did not come from the Agiassos region. They decided to write to the council (presided by the Bishop) that manages the Sanatorium, a letter describing the patient’s appalling living conditions with the hope that they might be improved. The reply was abrupt, one month later the Bishop threatened that unless the employees ask for his forgiveness for having dared to write the letter, they would all be dismissed, so losing their precious public servant status, which in Greece is a guarantee of security for life. Hence the Sanatorium’s thirty new employees apologized.
The Orthodox church still influences a large part of social, economic and political life in Greece today, the Sanitorium in Agiassos is an example of the extent of the church’s power and its abuse.