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-olds coked out and young patients who continually abuse alcohol reappear in the waiting room.   These people are no longer considered 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 hospital is  left understaffed when the volunteers can’t help.

Are beds, stretchers and public resources are being squandered?  Are personnel are working in vain knowing that the same patients will return after once again after choosing to drink or take the drug of their choice.

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