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A Hospital in Rome

A foreigner's adventure with Italian medical care

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ABOVE: So near, and yet so far: The beach in Lido di Ostia was only about 4 km or 2 miles from my room at the Ospedale GB Grassi. INSET BELOW: When I was hurting, Italy's taxpayers offered a helping hand.

by Durant Imboden

photoWhen I stepped off the MSY Wind Surf in Civitavecchia, Italy in May, 2006, I thought I was on my way home after a 7-day Mediterranean cruise from Marseilles to Rome. My plans began to change when I felt wobbly on the gangway, staggered as I collected my suitcase, and zigzagged like a drunk on my way to the airport coach.

The bus ride to Leonardo da Vinci Airport was fine, but I had trouble keeping my balance after I draped my camera bag across my body and left the coach. Soon I was weaving my way through the crowds in the terminal, using my wheeled suitcase for support.

At that point, I knew better than to check in for my flight: I never would have made it past the check-in counter, let alone security or the ticket agent at the departure gate. So I asked a policemen for directions to Pronto Soccorso (First Aid). That turned out to be the first step in an 18-day adventure at the Ospedale GB Grassi in Lido di Ostia, an ancient port and a modern Roman residential district at the junction of the Tiber River and the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Note: I'm recounting my experiences in this article for three reasons: (1) to reassure readers who may be apprehensive about medical treatment abroad; (2) to share tips that may be helpful to other travelers; and (3) to say "Grazie" to the staff at the Ospedale GB Grassi, who treated me with kindness and wouldn't let me leave the hospital until they were convinced that it was safe for me to fly home.

Next page: Emergency treatment


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