‘Our mission is the therapeutic treatment of pain and the restoration of the functionality and normal life for our patients.’
The ATHENA MAVROMATI PAIN CLINIC can be found on a leafy street in the Athenian suburb of Chalandri. The owners, Athena Mavromati and Ioannis Tornazakis, combine Athena’s medical expertise as an anesthesiologist and pain management specialist with Ioannis’s engineering and administrative skills to deliver top quality medical interventional services and treatments. Apart from being business partners, they are married and live in Athens, Greece, with their dog Ektoras.
Tell us a little about yourself.
Athena: I was born on the island of Thassos where I spent my preschool years. We then moved to the city of Kavala but always came back for the summer vacations. I received my Μedical Degree from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and specialised in Anesthesiology in Athens. I worked in Intensive Care Units for both adults and children in main hospitals of Athens. I then further specialized in the treatment of pain in Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham and Bradford Royal Infirmary at the UK. Upon my return to Greece, I worked at the Hygeia Hospital’s Pain Management Unit as a consultant, and at the University of Athens as an associate scientist. In 2001, I founded my own clinic and I’ve worked exclusively there ever since. I practice regenerative medicine and minimally invasive techniques such as prolotherapy, prp and stem cells. I have been continuing my scientific education in the US on the emerging field of regenerative medicine.
Ioannis: I was born and raised in Athens, Greece. I received my BSc in Aviation
Science and Wings from the Hellenic Air Force (HAF) Academy and got my MSc in
Electronic Warfare Systems Engineering from NPS in Monterey, California. As a fast
jet pilot I have logged more than 1,000 flight hours in jets including the Mirage 2000.
In the following years I served as an Electronic Warfare Systems Engineer at HAF
headquarters and was the Head of Delegation for Greece in key NATO groups
tasked with aircraft self-protection. In 2012, I decided to quit my career in the Air Force and join Athena in her practice. Since then, I have been designing and supporting our technical infrastructure, and constantly improving our medical imaging capabilities. I am also tasked with the administration of the practice and our day to day business needs.
What were the major difficulties you’ve faced in the last five years?
Athina: Well, they fall into two very different categories. On the one hand, there is our decision to move on from traditional pain management techniques to advanced regenerative medicine interventions under ultrasound guidance. This is a significant leap on an international scale that requires extensive medical training, and acquisition of new medical technologies and equipment; it also presents logistical challenges. On the other hand, as a medical practice here in Greece, we face a hostile environment to do business in, because of the destabilised and unpredictable tax, banking and healthcare policies.
It is a huge challenge to bring new and innovative technologies into a troubled market.
Ioannis: I’ve also had to face the difficulty of a major career change from defence to healthcare. After after 20 years in the Air Force and having adopted the lifestyle and habits of a well structured, disciplined and isolated work environment, I had to switch gears and adapt to a more open and flexible setting. This did not happen without trouble both for me and all others around me!
However, things eventually settled down thanks to Athena’s patience and determination.
At least healthcare and military operations have one thing in common: a mission-oriented approach.
Did anyone in particular inspire you or help you?
Ioannis: Our constant inspiration comes from our patients. We appreciate their trust and willingness to pay out of their pockets for our medical services. Greeks really value education and health and are still willing to invest in them despite their current economic status.
Athena: Other sources of inspiration include traveling abroad for education and
business. Following up on the latest medical advances fascinates me and is a powerful and constant source of inspiration.
What are your hopes/plans for the future?
Athina: Our plan is to keep going while being be able to incorporate
the latest advances in regenerative medicine into our everyday practice. In
order to achieve that, we are constantly investing in technology, training and
resources, and adapting our procedures as needed.
Ioannis: In addition to our mainstream business we have started to develop medical mobile applications, which will complement our daily practice and reflect our knowledge in the field. We have been researching and working on this for a while and hope to see it eventually coming to life in early spring this year.
What are your hopes for Greece? What changes do you hope to see happen?
We hope that our country will eventually achieve economic stability and growth, and maintain its geopolitical status and advantage in our region. More important, we hope that we Greeks will be able to restore our country’s name and place in Europe and the global community. Though we have been greatly underestimated and blamed for the last years, we believe that in the end our spirit will prevail and we will reclaim our lost pride.
Have you considered leaving? If so, where would you like to go, and why?
Yes, despite our growth we have considered leaving. In a scenario like that we would like to go to an English-speaking country outside Europe. This is because Europe is in the grips of a decline and has lost its competitive advantage in almost all areas in comparison to America and the East. Plus, it is always interesting to work and live in new places.
If you have already decided to leave, what would make you stay?
We are very well established in our business so it would be a pity to leave the country. Moreover, we have reached a balance between work and quality of life. At the end of the day, we love our country and would not be among the first to flee from it.
Are you actively doing anything to help with the situation? Is there something you would like to do?
We are actively helping with the situation by doing our part as a medical practice. We are bringing new technologies into the country and sustaining them. Despite being surrounded by a collapsing healthcare system, we offer advanced health services that make a difference. We save our patients having to face a situation where there is no place to go when their health is at stake. We strongly believe that if all of us do our part, we will, as a whole, harvest the benefits. It might seem a little hard at the beginning, but frankly, there is no other way.
How do you see Greece in 5, 10 years?
We cannot say how we see Greece for the next quarter let alone the next 5 to 10
year period. Our country’s economic and geopolitical instability, (not to mention warfare and associated problems in the wider region) does not allow for such predictions.
Instead, we find it more productive to focus on contingency planning and what to do if things get worse or take a new course. As for our expectations, we believe the pessimistic messages coming from the political and academic milieu are countered by the optimistim and hopes of active citizens.
How do you cope with obstacles and frustrations in your everyday life ?
We cope with obstacles by solving the problems one at a time and having a
plan for resources and supplies. We brainstorm a lot and have long conversations in order to analyse each issue that arises.
Frustrations are hard to manage because they are sudden and overwhelming in
nature. What we have found works for us is having a flexible plan, doing things in
small increments that eventually add up, and always having alternate paths and
What are the positive sides of living in Greece? Have you had any good
In our free time we like to hike with our dog in the nearby mountains and go sailing at every opportunity. Greece’s nature is one of a kind, from its limitless coastlines and countless islands to its mountains. We have the best scenery on this planet, with the sun a permanent resident, signs of the ancient Greeks everywhere, ruins of temples and historical sites all around. Add to that the openness of the people and the whole set up has no equal.
Ask sailors around the world from New Zealand to the Baltic which is the hardest
sea to master, and they will all come up with one answer: the Aegean! So, both of us being sailors worth our salt, our best experiences have to do with sailing around
in our yacht. Recently we sailed for a couple of hours from our harbour to the maintenance centre. There was a light breeze, no waves, and brilliant light
with scattered clouds. All that in the middle of winter!