Santa Maria Nuova ER a ‘War Zone’

Photo courtesy of La Repubblica

The mix of destructive patients and lack of staff makes the Santa Maria Nuova emergency room a warzone for the doctors and nurses. This ER is the smallest in the city of Florence, but is surrounded by night clubs and bars making it a hub for drunk and disorderly patients.

Working there is not just a matter of dealing with those that look for help, but staying safe. Between the mix of underage drinkers and 25-40 -year old Italians, doctors and nurses are being attacked by those they serve.

The staff is mostly women rather than men. The schedule is organized so that there is a man on every night shift because of security issues. When patients are ripping out IV drips and attempt escapes, the hospital finds it necessary to have extra muscle on staff to stop them.

The doctors and nurses grow frustrated while 50 –year old coked out and young alcoholic patients reappear in the waiting room. The staff no longer consider these people as real emergencies, but those who have decided to waste their life.

A few nights a week, volunteers from a non-profit drug rehabilitation center come to assist handling the patients. The doctors and nurses are left understaffed when the volunteers can’t help.

Rather than serving the sick or those in need, the doctors and nurses feel that beds, stretchers and public resources are being squandered on the wrong people. Instead feeling like they have saved someone, Personnel feel as if they are working in vain knowing that the same patients will return after once again choosing to drink or take the drug of their choice.

To read more in Italian see, Florence’s La Repubblica news site. (deanna carbone)