Trentino healthcare commuters: “It’s the only way to get treatment and stay alive”

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The moment for Trentino healthcare is not the best, and this is now there for all to see. To deny it would mean lack of political and constructive vision.

Let me be clear, the decay of our health much rewarded, envied and incensed, has its roots at the end of the 2010s. Probably now all the knots are coming home to roost with the consequent slipping even lower of all health services in Trentino, to the detriment, and God forbid, as always of the community.

It is right to clarify one thing right away: we are talking about autonomous province of Trento, a rich and precisely autonomous province, and not a reality of the south or of the third world. To those who say that we shouldn’t complain because things are worse in many other regions, I reply that Trentino must look to the big cities of northern Europe and not to the south. And that’s that.

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A province that returns with Trento at the top of the ranking of the 107 Italian provinces for the life quality but that results in the voice “Health” in the last places. In light of this, it is necessary ask yourself some questions.

Trentino pays the shortage of beds in hospital wards (in 91st place) and an insufficient endowment of diagnostic equipment. (we are in 106th place in Italy out of 107). In particular, our province of Trento results: in 85th place for the availability of beds in specialist wards; to the penultimate for the availability of diagnostic equipment; 64th for obstetrics and gynecology beds per thousand inhabitants; 96th for those in cardiology, cardiac surgery and coronary units per thousand inhabitants; to the 70th for those in intensive care per 100 thousand inhabitants and to the 64th for those in oncology wards per thousand inhabitants. (here insight into the data of Italia Oggi)

In this article I want to talk about commuters from Trentino healthcare, too many, and often elderly. Those who in a nutshell, to get treatment and hope to stay alive, have to travel by car or train every month to Milan, Rome, Puglia and so on, because in our autonomous province of Trento there is a lack of facilities, expert doctors, and where the problem of waiting lists is reaching alarming levels.

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Those who contribute to increase the GDP of other regions thanks to the so-called health tourism, while Trentino stands by debating whether to build a new hospital in Cavalese or renovate the old one. Not to mention the Not catchphrase designed 30 years ago and no longer current and fortunately canceled completely to start from scratch. But in the meantime? Will we stay with Santa Chiara for another 30 years?

One such commuter is called Gianenrico Sordo, character and business owner very well known for its incredible history (click here to read it) which in some passages is mystical and supernatural. In Trento, after various consultations, they told him that his cancer was inoperable and would therefore have a few months to live.

In Milan, on the other hand, he was immediately operated on by Professor Torzilli, one of the greatest surgeons in the world who works in Humanitas, and after 4 years I can guarantee that he is very well and every two days he can be seen running for over 10 kilometers on the wonderful Valsugana cycle path.

Another example is that of RA aged 60 from Trento. The diagnosis for him was dramatic: inoperable brain cancer in Trento. Life expectancy maybe 2 months. Still in Milan visited after 2 days, operated after 8 and for now after 6 months in splendid form.

BT of Rovereto, a young woman and mother undergoing surgery in Trento for metastatic cancer whose diagnosis leads to 90% of death. At Santa Chiara he is inoperable, in Milan he underwent emergency surgery and for now he is fine.

PC, a boy from Rovereto with kidney cancer, in Trento they had given him little hope with an initial diagnosis that was, among the rest, wrong. Followed by the Milan cancer institute with a system of experimental therapies, he’s doing well for now.

The case of KA of Trento is even more striking, the diagnosis leaves no way out at least in Trento: bladder cancer. Al Santa Chiara is given up for dead and buried. The girl does not give up and she is operated on by Professor Cisternino. Now she is fine and like her for the same illness there are 5 in Trentino given for sure death here in Trento and suddenly resurrected because you operate outside the province. There could probably be hundreds of houses in our province.

There are other examples related to disorganization of our health system. Like the one on MRI who is diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. He immediately turns to Humanitas in Milan where they ask for the very urgent exams in RAO – A (they must be done by law within 3 days) after a useless wait of 20 days he decides to go to a private individual, the next day the exams are ready thanks to the payment of 500 euros. The man, rather pissed off, then charged the sum to the APSS which will have to reimburse him according to the law.

A young boy from the Rotaliana he discovers he has colon cancer with liver metastases, is operated on in Trento and left with an external faeces bag (intestinal ostomy), an outdated technique that many professionals no longer use. After the operation they tell him that there is nothing more to do and that a second operation is impossible. The exact opposite of what they say in Milanto the IEU (European Institute of Oncology) where the young person is operated on. For now, he’s fine too.

«They should tell you that they are unable to operate on you because the structures in Trento are not reliable instead of ruling that you are inoperable and therefore condemning you to death»Gianenrico Sordo underlines one of the first who opened a new path for cancer patients and who is contacted every week by other patients who are confused and no longer know where to turn. “I’m not a doctor – adds Gianenrico – and I will only tell my experience that I lived and continue to live in the field in the midst of dozens of inconsistencies and contradictions of our Trentino healthcare»

“Standstill that leads nowhere – he adds Gianenrico Sordo – here in Trento there is a lack of external and internal structures, there is a lack of operating theatres, beds and adequate equipment, consequently there is a lack of doctors. The doctor in Italy following wicked choices made in recent years is disappearing. Those who want to make a career choose suitable and state-of-the-art hospitals and facilities with sector-specific tools. And how to blame him after all. To reach the goal sooner, would you choose a Ferrari or a Fiat 500?»

The health commissioner he has the most difficult task in a junta, he has to administer almost half of the resources of the province and manage perhaps the most expensive and important thing of his citizens: health. “After the pandemic – he continues Gianenrico Sordo – there was no reaction and then a situation began to emerge that was perhaps somewhat “covered” until then. Thus the difficulties arose in carrying out any type of visit, from driving licenses to sports visits, appointments for specialist visits over 6 months, visits to Rao A which, instead of within 72 hours by law, are made after 10 days and beyond. In some areas of Trentino, finding a general practitioner is essentially impossible. And when you’ve found him just to answer the phone, weeks often go by.”

The problem of general practitioners in Trentino it’s an open wound: there are 319 and there are 46 deficient areas. In 2026 the peak of retirements will be reached, and therefore in these 4 years the problems of registering for the position will have to be solved to avoid running out of doctors. There are thousands of patients in Trentino who still struggle to comply with the times indicated by the doctor on the prescriptions, being at having to postpone specialist visits, checks, interventions.

But let’s get back to waiting lists. It is the numbers that give the colossal dimension of the phenomenon also extended to a national level: ISTAT has evaluated the number of citizens’ renunciation of specialist visits and diagnostic tests due to the difficulty of accessing the service or economic reasons, highlighting that the renunciations there were 4,845,000 in 2021 and a good 5,610,000 in 2022 (in 2019 they were 3,162,000), with an evident increasing trend. Naturally, the waivers mean that either the patient decides not to be treated, or that he decides to do it for a fee.

«I am well aware of the defects of healthcare in Trentino because I am a cancer patient, but I must acknowledge that my experiences with the medical professionals of the APSS have been positive. I have often found professionals in disarray, good, but without the right tools to work in the best way. An ugly, chaotic and disorganized environment creates tension, while a clean, organized environment creates serenity and strong motivation. In a nutshell, a professional inserted in two different contexts can have different reactions».

«Here then we must speak clearly – Gianenrico is still pressing – when you get seriously ill you are afraid of dying, and for this you ask for a structure that gives you certainties, what is missing is to take a sick person and consider him as a person and not as a simple number. Let’s not talk about general practitioners who often behave listlessly. A friend of mine called her doctor asking for an urgent MRI scan for her father, there were problems on the phone and then there was a quarrel. The doctor finally exploded saying: «What does it matter, your father will be dead in 3 months anyway». Do you realize?”

Are we talking about healthcare in Trentino? “Yes, of course. The moment is difficult and the councilor’s office hasn’t worked well. I did my part, because it’s okay to be critical but in a constructive way. I gave the municipality of Ospedaletto a defibrillator and I didn’t hear even a simple thank you from the province. I brought perhaps the greatest surgeon in the world to Aluray’s tenth anniversary ceremony (Ed – Prof. Torzilli) I had invited the commissioner and the president of Pat and no one even answered me. They find the time to go to the sausage festival to be photographed and do not take these opportunities to create important synergies. This is strange in my opinion.”

«When a politician is appointed to an important role, such as that of health care – continues Gianenrico – it should understand that it is responsible for the lives of its citizens and he should forget that he is an ordinary politician and remember that he has to carry out a mission. There will never be one adequate compensation for a politician who does his job by changing the life and history of people, like vice versa, the value of the politician who will worsen the lives of citizens with his choices will count as absolute zero. I would like to say that the Fugatti government has worked excellently, some departments have done well, unfortunately the health system has worsened and I cannot understand why. Managing healthcare is not easy, and when you choose a person to do it, you must be sure that they are able to do it”

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Trentino healthcare commuters: “It’s the only way to get treatment and stay alive”