I thought I would expand a bit on the reason that I was asked to address senior hospital officials during my recent visit to Florence. This comes from the fact that people at our hospital and others have been engaged in a program to help the hospitals in Tuscany develop an emergency medicine program. As outlined in an article last year in the Annals of Emergency Medicine (Volume 50, Number 6, Pages 726-732. December 2007):
Italy lacks standardized specialty training in emergency medicine. There is no system of national or regional accreditation of the knowledge base or skill set of physicians working in regional emergency departments, which results in variability of emergency medical care delivery not only between hospital EDs but also within individual EDs. To address this need, the Tuscan Minister of Health chose to develop a partnership with emergency medicine specialists from the United States to help expedite the growth of the specialty in Tuscany. The collaboration called the Tuscan Emergency Medicine Initiative consists of the regional health care service, the Tuscan university system, Harvard Medical International, and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Department of Emergency Medicine.
The program leaders plan to train more than 625 physicians by June 2008.
A new step in the planning stage is to create a pediatric trauma program. To date, no such program exists. Our doctors are working in cooperation with others from Children's Hospital Boston, as well as the Meyer Pediatric Hospital/University of Florence School of Medicine to create one and to enable major pediatric trauma to be consolidated in this new center by creating a regional pediatric trauma referral system.
Both of these programs are examples of the kinds of capability US academic medical centers can bring to other parts of the world. But this is certainly a two-way street, as our doctors also learn a tremendous amount during their time abroad. And, of course, marvelous relationships are created that bring lasting value to all participants.
(The picture above is the view of Florence from Fiesole.)