I had my first experience of Lucca’s new hospital last week when a highly slippery paste, concocted of lime seeds and rain (thank you Bagni di Lucca comune for not keeping the roads clean…..), caused me to part company with my scooter on the last curve before entering Bagni di Lucca from Corsena.
The damage to the scooter was minimal but I didn’t realise the damage to myself until sometime after when, having picked myself up and dusted myself down, I biked towards Lucca after having met my wife who now became a pillion passenger.
Arriving at Ponte a Moriano, I noticed some increased pain. A visit to the pharmacy prompted a further visit to the Green Cross there whose staff promptly strapped me onto a stretcher in one of their ambulances and drove my wife and me to the Ospedale San Luca near Lucca.
Fortunately nothing was broken but a deep gash to my left elbow left me somewhat dangerously open to infection. Stitches, plastering and scanning followed and it was some six hours before I left the new establishment.
As we had no idea where we were except that we were somewhere to the east of Lucca we were at a loss on how to get back home (the scooter had, of course, been left at Ponte a Moriano), until a guardian angel in the form of a hospital pathologist stopped his car alongside us and asked if we needed any help. Not only did the pathologist drive us all the way to our car parked at Bagni di Lucca station but also detoured to a pharmacy to get my medication.
My verdict on Lucca’s new hospital? It is North Tuscany’s aims to rationalise its hospital system into four new super-hospitals. These are, respectively, Apuane, Lucca, Pistoia and Prato. Lucca and Pistoia have already been completed and the other two are in the offing. There has been lots of discussion and back-biting about the new hospitals which are all being built to roughly the same plan.
The arguments against them are that:
- The current hospitals still work satisfactorily so why fix them?
- The new hospitals will take longer to get to, especially in emergencies. (There is even a level crossing before one gets to San Luca!)
- The old hospitals had fine architectural features, art nouveau embellishments, and great traditions.
- The old hospitals had more beds
- The new hospitals will have obvious teething problems which will clearly take some time to sort out
- Existing neighbours of the new hospitals won’t like being next to buildings with loud ambulance sirens at all times of the day and night.
The arguments for the new hospitals are, predictably:
- They will have more up-to-date medical equipment.
- The buildings will be easier and more economical to maintain
The proof of the cake is in the eating and I found all the staff very helpful and sympathetic and resigned to their novel fate of working at San Luca.
There are some redeeming architectural features, however, in the new hospital.
There is an impressive entrance foyer with outside shuttle bus service to Lucca town centre (about twenty minutes away)
There are some fine escalators.
Signage is good:
There are attractive waiting rooms:
There’s a good bar selling excellent focaccia sandwiches (a canteen is to follow)
There’s a nice chapel for Catholics
There’s an alternative ecumenical centre for other religions including eastern ones and for atheists to worship in.
There’s an up-and-coming exhibition area showing the amazing archaeological finds uncovered during the hospital’s building dating back from Etruscan times to the modern age.
Indeed, part of a Roman wall forms a feature of the central courtyard, which is a rather pleasant area to be in.
The hospital has a Saint Faith’s feel about it. If anyone remembers the episode on the compassionate society in that memorable comedy series “Yes Minister” one realises that this hospital is so efficient because it has an excellent administrative and maintenance staff but, apparently, rather less in the way of medical staff and patients… (Am I being unfair?).
So, without dying to get into the hospital again, I feel that it will provide a useful and worthy Italian National Health experience for anyone who needs to avail of its services – which reminds me I have to be back there tomorrow. Must try another of the bar’s rucola-filled focaccie this time….