Saturday 1 December 2012

Another Italian hospital

Italy is a topsy turvy place to live. Let me start by saying that if you are ever going to get sick in Calabria or get hit by a range rover when you are 35 weeks pregnant then you want to be near Catanzaro NOT Cosenza. You want to be near Germaneto and their university hospital to be precise.

We went there 2 weeks ago and from the start something was not quite right. We drove about 50 minutes south of here to the Germaneto university hospital in Catanzaro for bel bambino's appointment. He had been a patient here for 5 days in between being a patient in Cosenza. The hospital is rather new and bel bambino was sent there because they have the speciality unit which could look after his fractured jaw. Before this hospital opened the closest hospital with this unit was in Bari, Puglia so thankfully bel marito and bel bambino did not have to go that far to be looked after.

As we arrived I thought bel marito must have taken a wrong turn. We were in front of an exceptionally large, art house looking building full of yellow columns, outdoor emergency iron stairs, big glass windows - not your typical hospital. We walked in and upon looking for our department on the clear wall signage I was shocked my Italian had improved so much that I understood random, complex medical terms. Hang on though, I was reading in English! The signs around the entire hospital were written in Italian, English and Arabic. This hospital was strange. Was it really a hospital? Something was just wrong. I was dying to pee and worried that first I wouldn't be able to find the toilets and then when I did they would be disgusting. I found them with no problem and shock horror they were clean, there was actually a toilet seat (most Italian public toilets don't have toilet seats, even in restaurants it is hard to find a toilet seat,) and there was toilet paper and soap. If you have never been in an Italian public or even private toilet then let me tell you toilet seats, paper and soap (also a functioning hand dryer) are not the norm.

Pleased with the toilet, yet still skeptical about the hospital we set off to find the doctor only to be accosted in the operational lift by an overly friendly man who wanted to help direct us to the correct floor. I didn't know which was stranger - the functioning lift or a helpful hospital employee. When it was our turn to visit the doctor (who greeted bel bambino by name since he is a small celebrity in that hospital) we were ushered into a nice, new looking room and the nurse and student nurse both gushed all over him, and me to be honest (everyone there knows about our accident.)

After a pain free (but not tear free) visit we were hit with dread at the thought of having to get not only a copy of bel bambino's CAT scan but also copies of his hospital files. Bel marito had already made the request and made payment before our visit but dealing with an Italian administration department is never easy. We went up to an office which oddly was smoke free...(It is almost mandatory for staff to smoke in their smoke free environments. When we went to the questura for bella bambina's passport there were cigarette butts on the floor and a man smoking in the corridor.) Upon seeing me walk in with 2 crutches and  bella bambina strapped to me in the baby bjorn two female employees practically started fighting over who could offer me their chair first. On the spot they gave bel marito a copy of the CAT scan  and while we were telling them about the accident they keep giving bel bambino lollies. We had to go downstairs to get the hospital charts but wait - the lady was on the phone calling the admin department making sure the documents were ready and hang on, what was she doing now...she was asking that they be brought upstairs to us!

This is just crazy, I thought.What is going on? It must be a trick. "No, don't worry, we've got to pass the administration office on the way out so we can get the paper work" bel marito said not wanting to put these people out. We got up to leave after having met nearly the entire floor since everyone wanted to see bella bambina. The ladies kept calling out to who ever would listen that there were 2 cute babies in the room and they just had to come and see (half of the people already knew bel bambino.) As we tried to escape, with lollies and squeals of 'how beautiful' being thrown around a woman came and pushed something into our hands...bel bambino's hospital charts which had miraculously been brought upstairs to us.

We left feeling like B grade celebrities and I must say I was more than a little bit jealous that I could not have spent my 17 day hospital stay here. I felt better though when bel marito told me they don't have an orthopaedic ward so I couldn't have come there even if I wanted to.

I hope the rest of the country takes after this hospital!


Gil said...

Glad to hear that you and your family were finally treated like human beings by the Italian Healthcare System!!! I'm only familiar with Pronto Soccorso and had good experiences the two times I needed their services. It makes you wonder how bad things are going to get in those other hospitals with the country running short of money.

Iain-Down under said...

Hi Leanne, I've missed your blog for sometime so I was horrified to hear of your dreadful accident. Glad to hear you and bel bambino are now well on the way to recovery and congratulations on the new addition to your family. I hope the trip home to Australia goes without a hitch.

Gil said...

Looks like you are getting spammed.

Rachel said...

I have heard absolute horror stories about hospitals in Calabria. Good to know there's at least one that isn't so bad.