The quirks of Italian Medical care

di Lashion Banks   LaShion Banks su

LaShion Banks was born in downtown Atlanta, grew up in a family of talented singers, dancers, and musicians. Started by putting together shows for family gatherings. Became a solo vocalist very early on. First solo at age 7 at Traveler’s Rest Baptist Church. Now she lives in southern Italy and is amazed by the quirks of it…

 I have been living in Italy now for a few years, but  my first time ever going to the doctor here was when I found out I was pregnant.
When you move here, you get a Tessera Sanitaria, it is kind of like a social security card, and  they ask you which primary care doctor you want. I didn’t know any of the doctors in the area at the time, except for my friend’s dad, but his list was full. I was told that I would have to wait until the list of dead patients was updated and just maybe I could be added.Puzzled male shrugging wearing lab coat
So I told the clerk to just pick me a female doctor that was available.
Well, that was some time ago, so when I finally went to my first visit with my doctor, I had no idea what to expect. I had just taken the home pregnancy test, and I was so excited that I couldn’t wait to see the doctor!
I passed by her office, since there is no point using the phone in southern Italy, no one ever answers anyway. I checked her schedule and noticed she was open the next day in the afternoon. Okay, just gonna have to wait one more day…
So, the next day I went… I walked into what looked like a small, old apartment. The lights were off and there was only the dim lighting from the sunlight coming in through the curtained windows. There were five people seated, no desk, no secretary, no nurse, just chairs along the walls and two closed doors.
Hmmmmm….so I just decided to do what everyone else was doing…  I sat down.
About five minutes later, a guy walked in and immediately asked, “Chi è ultimo?”  (Who is last?)
Blank stare.
I just sat there. Next everyone started looking at me… Once they realized I was clueless, they pointed at me and responded “Lei!
OH, is THAT how this works!  So, I looked around the room again and checked the faces.
I was now second to last of these people.

Got it!

I grabbed a magazine…  I waited…and waited…The door finally opened and an elderly lady came out, one of the persons seated jumped up and just walked right in. Still no nurse. Wow!

About an hour later, it was my turn. I jumped up and walked right in too, like everyone else had done before me, and there sat my doctor. She had the kindest eyes, so I relaxed immediately.

Haven’t seen you before!!
“Yeah, I know, this is my first time here.”
How long have you been in Mesagne?
“Three years.”
Ahh… so… how come you haven’t come before?
“I don’t know, didn’t really need to.  Now, I’m pregnant!”
Well, Congratulations!
” Thanks!  Ummmm…  I really need to go to the bathroom.”

I had just started that time period of the pregnancy where you have to pee every five minutes and I had been holding it, pretty much since the five minutes after I had peed at home.
Go back out and it’s the other door
I guess, I could have asked while I was in the waiting area.  Oh well…  so, I came out, the guy up next was already jumping up…

“Not done yet, just going…” (pointing to the bathroom door)
Did my business and came back and she started taking down all of my information, recommended a couple of gynecologists, printed me a “ticket” from her Social Services booklet to take a blood test and wrote me a prescription for Folic Acid.
Once you get your test results back, bring them by here
“Okay… but… where I am supposed to go to get the blood test?”
The eyes…so kind…yeah, I know.
I am from America, lady! We put signs up everywhere! Like, signs on the bathroom door, for example!  We have sign-in sheets and nurses and information bulletins, websites, and information hot lines and appointment calling centers. You’d have to be really stupid, to ask a stupid question!
You can get it done at the hospital here in Mesagne
“Oh, okay.” Fake Italian medical
So, the blood test… got it done at a clinic right by my friend’s house, the one he highly recommended. It was a modern building (good sign) oh, and there was an information desk! And lights! The other place was a FREE Public Govt. funded office. THIS was a PAID Private office…. totally American style robbery.
I can do this! Piece of cake!
Walked right up to the information desk asked where to go to get the blood test. Got a number. Waited for my number to be called…paid and took the test.


Now, it was time to find a gynecologist. That took a month…arggh… We were told to see Dr. Botticelli. That she was fantastic, she was private and her office was close.
Except Botticelli is SO private that you can’t even find her. She is not listed anywhere…not in the phone book, the yellow pages, the Internet.
So we search and search, call people, call the hospital…

They were of great assistance.

We can’t give you an appointment specifically for Botticelli, we can only give you a date and time, and whomever is on shift that day will do your exam
“But you can’t check her schedule to see when she is working next and set me up for that day?”
No, I don’t know when she will be in
Ahh…  They just arbitrarily show up at work…  (sigh) 2976733183_5cccf5b8ee
“Well, I just want an appointment with her, ummm, can you give me the number to her private office?”
No, I don’t know it
“Now, this is getting ridiculous. Forget Botticelli!  Tired of waiting!  I am just going to go to a different paid clinic or something and at least, get my first exam done!!”

No, just wait… I will find the number…

A month and a week pass by before I finally get the number for Botticelli, from a friend of a friend…


So I call Doctor Botticelli’s office, only ten times before getting an answer and the earliest the secretary could book me for was the following Monday. It was going to be a LONG weekend!

I walked into a bright, colorful office.  Lots of women with babies.

While waiting, I sat and giggled and flipped through magazines. Three magazines a minute.  I don’t even know what Iwas looking at, was just flipping the pages and laughing.
They finally called us in.  The nurse immediately points at me, “Banks, right?”  (I wonder what gave it away?)

For the visit and many hours later, we were just in heaven… first time seeing the baby and hearing the heartbeat… just too much!!!!

It’s so powerfully overwhelming that you don’t feel anything. Bliss.  It’s just a peaceful calm stillness.  Wait, is this Nirvana??   No way to really describe it. Miraculous? Even that doesn’t sound fitting.

I can’t wait to see the doctor next time 🙂 !!! 😉

Mò ciao! 🙂


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