Friday, March 27

How long for the sniffles?

Anyone coming to Italy can’t help but notice the big green illuminated crosses on pretty much every corner and lining every street. No, these are not the modern update of the little madonnas which adorn almost every palazzo in Italy. They are the bright green Farmacia signs, and, judging by the crowds going in and out, you’d think they were giving away free money inside.

Italians love their pharmacies, and pharmacists hold a privileged place in society as second only to the Holy Father. Although they dispense drugs, they are actually highly trained in what they dispense. The pharmacies here are not unlike those depicted in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, where the pharmacist was your friend – and, it’s him or her who would take the fall on a faulty prescription. They know their clients (and their ailments) by name, and can help you through any sort of malady.
But the thing that is most endearing about the healthcare system, is the role that the doctors play in all this. Not only can they divine your ailment, they are nothing short of soothsayers in the great healthcare realm. Call anyone this winter season, and you’re almost always met with, “Giovanni Rossi is not in – he’s sick – and will be out for 9 days.” And, while visions of a bubonic plague start to come to mind, you discover it’s simply the prognosis for sick leave that doctors confer on their patients.
Bronchitis? Two weeks minimum. A fever? Four days. Talk about the power of suggestion.
I recall the days when we all tried to stay the least amount of time out of the office; lest we use up our sick days, get sidetracked, or even lose out on choice projects. The irony here is that the U.S. operates on the reverse system which says, ‘Heart Attack? 2.6 days. Pneumonia? 4 days (including weekends). Giving birth? 3 days.
In a country which doesn’t have set sick days, you don’t need to keep track. Based on your prescription, your pharmacist will know how long you’ll be bedridden.


Anonymous said...

I can only comment as a visitor to Italy and utilizing the pharmacy on three separate occasions (okay, not a good sign that I get ill in Italy)
Anyway, I have to strongly applaud them for their knowledge, kindness to a non-Italian speaking visitor, and finding me a great medicine for my ailment. I cannot say the same for the pharmacies here in Canada. For one, you can pick up an number of cold and allergy medication that would knock out a horse and all without need of a prescription. My Mom and I still recall the gentle "fizzy tablets" we used in our water to help us with a nasty cold while touring Italy.

Anonymous said...

I know a very nice girl in my class who is half-Italian half-Greek. She is one of my best friends.
I hope you gather more comments for your blog soon, Burnt by the Tuscan Sun.

HarmCo said...

This is fantastic. Mom needs to see this, though I haven't gotten her onto a blog yet. I'll sample it out to her, first. Love, Harm

Dave514 said...

I've had the occasion to have a doctor come to my hotel in Firenze, who was very thorough and expensive. I had to go to Farmacia to get a prescription filled.

I love them because they have far greater knowledge than our pill pushers and further much to my liking they are knowledgeable in homeopathic remedies.

I just wish we had some of them here.


J.Doe said...

I never understood why you could go to a doctor for a cough and they would give a sick note for 3 days off work without even examining you.

Freddy said...

Just take a look at the syllabus for an italian degree in Pharmacy and you will understand a lot of things about the preparation of the people behind the counter...

Too bad medications are to expensive compared to France or UK.

Irreverent Italy said...

Well, the fact of the matter is, the pharmacists in America are probably just as well-trained (although in Italy they must go to Med School). The problem is, due to lawsuits, they're not allowed to share the knowledge with anyone. So, mum's the word.
In that case, just filling prescriptions should be simply child's play.

As for J.Doe, that's the conspiracy behind letting workers take (legal) mental health days...everyone's in on it, so go for it! Unless of course, you're truly that ill...!