When My Infant Fell Ill in Italy – Discovering the Excellence of Italian Healthcare

When My Infant Fell Ill in Italy - Discovering the Excellence of Italian Healthcare

My 8-month-old daughter, Camilla, just arrived in Italy to kick off our summer 2024 trip with my wife a week before my arrival with our two older kids.  Unfortunately, Camilla touched down on Italian soil for the first time with a high fever and stomach issues, and upon consulting with our Florida pediatrician, my wife was advised to bring her immediately to an Italian emergency room.

When I heard the news, I felt a profound sense of relief.  My trust in the Italian healthcare system, and more particularly the prestigious Meyer Children’s Hospital in Florence, with its reputation for thorough, compassionate care and a focus on patient well-being rather than profit, reassured me.  We previously had a positive experience at Meyer when our daughter, Sofia, was an infant, which I wrote a POST about in 2019.  Based upon my past experience and the reputation of the Italian healthcare system, I knew that the Italian doctors would take their time with Camilla and ensure that she receives the best possible treatment without the burden of financial worries.

In contrast, if we were still in the United States, my feelings would have been vastly different. I would have felt scared and anxious, doubting the quality of care she would receive. In my experience, American hospital doctors often seem rushed, and their hospital room visits brief and impersonal.  The experience in a U.S. hospital can feel transactional, with a greater emphasis on moving patients through the system quickly rather than ensuring comprehensive care.  I would have also felt angry and frustrated about the financial implications. The exorbitant costs associated with U.S. healthcare, combined with what I perceive as subpar service, would have left me feeling ripped off and resentful. Instead of focusing solely on my daughter’s recovery, I would have been preoccupied with the medical bills.

The doctors at Meyer once again lived up to their reputation.  They recommended that Camilla and my wife remain in the emergency room for two days, and over that period, they conducted numerous tests to ensure they left no stone unturned in diagnosing and treating Camilla.  What stood out was the time the doctors spent with us (compared to the very brief time U.S. doctors spend with us). This allowed for close monitoring and provided my wife and I with comfort and reassurance during a stressful time.

One of the aspects we found delightful was the pace of life within the hospital. Unlike the rushed atmosphere often found in American hospitals, there was a calm and unhurried approach to care. While there was some waiting around, it wasn’t due to overcrowding or an overworked staff.  Instead, it reflected the slower, more deliberate Italian lifestyle.

Hospital food usually doesn’t get rave reviews, but at Meyer, it was different.  According to my wife, the meals were delicious (for hospital food) and authentically Italian. This small but significant detail added a touch of normalcy and comfort to my wife’s stay.

Additionally when my wife checked in with Camilla, the hospital staff asked for identification. Despite having only a United States passport, Camilla was accepted without hesitation.  This inclusivity was a testament to the hospital’s commitment to caring for all children, regardless of nationality

The most refreshing part of our experience was when my wife checked out with Camilla.  There was no invoice, no request for payment – the entire visit, including a two-night stay and numerous exams, was completely free. This was a stark contrast to the often exorbitant medical bills we face in the United States. It highlighted the profound difference in how healthcare is approached in Italy.

Overall, from a father’s perspective, my infant’s time at Meyer Children’s Hospital was a beautiful experience under the circumstances.  This experience underscored the advantages of Italy’s healthcare system and left us with a deep sense of gratitude.

Italy never ceases to amaze me with its rich culture, delicious food, and, now, its exceptional healthcare. This experience has only deepened my love for this incredible country and its people. If you ever find yourself in need of medical care in Italy, rest assured that you will be in good hands, just as we were at Meyer Children’s Hospital.  And most of all, our little Camilla is now happy and healthy in Florence, fever free.


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