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Pilgrims: dedicated healthcare services in Rome

Restructuring and renovation of Emergency Rooms in twelve hospitals in Rome, state-of-the-art healthcare centres, a single emergency number, new ambulances, upgrading of helipads, a dedicated service for dialysed patients, increased staff and volunteers along with an emergency plan in case of a terror attack: it’s the healthcare service offered to pilgrims arriving in Rome for the extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.

The quality of pilgrims’ reception for the Holy Year encompasses efficient healthcare, strengthened and available in every circumstance,

The Lazio Region has developed a dedicated healthcare plan involving various areas of intervention, thanks to an 88 million-investment package.

First of all, the E.R.s of twelve hospitals have been upgraded and restructured. These are: Santo Spirito, Polyclinic Sant’Andrea, the Hospitals of Sant’Eugenio, San Giovanni, San Camillo-Forlanini, Polyclinic Umberto I, Polyclinic Tor Vergata, San Filippo Neri, Polyclinic Gemelli, Sandro Pertini Hospital, Ss. Gonfalone (psychiatry ward) along with the G.B. Grassi Hospital in the district of Ostia. These initiatives, explained the president of the Lazio Region Nicola Zingaretti, “have been planned for the Jubilee but they are also part of a major overhaul of the healthcare system.” With a contribution of 51 euro, pilgrims from Countries that have not signed agreements with Italy can apply for a “First Aid Pass”, which allows free access to urgent health care treatment.

At present six advanced healthcare centres (PMAs) set up by the Lazio Region are operational, two more, activated by the Civil Protection division, will be operational by the end of the summer.

These are mobile healthcare facilities, also equipped with defibrillator, where doctors, nurses and volunteers provide immediate assistance and first aid as an alternative to hospitals.

A permanent healthcare facility, operational throughout the Jubilee Year, has been installed by the Regional Health Emergency division (Ares 118) under the colonnade of St. Peter’s Square. Other PMAs will be set up as a further support to this one and in other locations – we were told at the Lazio Region – on the occasion of special events for which is expected a greater influx of pilgrims. Last December 8, for example, for the opening of the Holy Door in the Vatican Basilica, Ares had installed a second PMA in the area of Castel Sant’Angelo, dismantled after the event. However, if it were necessary to activate the mobile healthcare facilities in greater numbers, the Lazio Region officers pointed out, Ares would submit such requests also to other organizations like the Red Cross or Misericordie.

More staff. As many as 860 new professionals – doctors, nurses and drivers – have been fielded. Thanks to the project “Beyond hospitality: competent volunteers”, 420 volunteers between 18 and 65 years were also trained with classroom activities and hospital internships to serve as support and mentorship in first aid services during the scheduled days of the “events”.

“Yours are the faces of closeness and care for others. You are small sacraments of goodness, signs that implement ways of salvation”, they were told by the Cardinal vicar H.E. Agostino Vallini, during a meeting held past November 28.

On December 1st were activated 40 new ambulances, while 86 are going to be purchased and upgraded with state-of-the-art technology. There already are eight landing areas for rescue helicopters on Rome’s outer ring road, while the Ministry of Defence has authorized the use at night of three military sites. These are: the Cecchignola barracks for the Sant’Eugenio Hospital, Macao military compound for Umberto I Polyclinic. Twenty 20 sports fields have been identified as suited to operate as helipads 24 hours running. A few days ago was also activated the regional rescue helicopter service in Latina’s military base, and another will soon be operative at the Moscardini military airport of the town of Frosinone, near Rome.

Dedicated healthcare initiatives include people with specific needs, such as the project: “Jubilee, Residence for dialysis patients”, sponsored by the Fondazione PolyclinicAgostino Gemelli for people undergoing dialysis. The project envisages reception with their families in a protected residence at the hospital where they will be administered the needed treatments. These pilgrims will be able to participate with a dedicated shift at the papal audience and go through the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica. The Regional Plan for the monitoring and management of infectious emergencies, set up by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases Lazzaro Spallanzani in Rome, is equally operational.
An emergency plan in case of terror attack (PEIMAF) envisages immediate response in major hospitals, aimed at providing coordinate, systematic and short-time first-aid medical services (30 min) to high numbers of patients in emergency rooms.

A single emergency number. As of past November 17 a single emergency number (NUE, activated to date only in the Lombardy Region), will answer questions in 14 languages. The emergency number 112 replaces the same number 112 that previously served for police emergencies. It also replaces 113 for other police forces, the firefighters hotline (115) and the health emergency number (118). The single emergency number 112 will filter and relay the requests. It became fully operational past December 1st, thanks to specially trained service providers.

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