CATANIA – A tide that has continued to rise, hidden only by the pandemic. The decades-old Sicilian health problems have not disappeared with the Coronavirus emergency, which if anything has only lowered them in volume, relegating them to the background of public attention. Thus, when the trend of the infections gives hope for a return to normalcy, here is that normalcy really returns, with all its age-old difficulties. To which are added those still unresolved, related to vaccinations. And the oppositions with a joint motion ask the regional government to respond to the ARS.
The chronicles of recent days tell of ambulances lined up in front of the Palermo emergency rooms, full of patients waiting to enter wards that are unable to accommodate them, and hundreds of Covid beds to be converted. Due to the Coronavirus emergency, various areas of Sicilian hospitals had been transformed into Covid wards, temporarily putting on hold, or in any case in queue, the services for other pathologies. Which, inevitably, have grown. With the improvement of the pandemic, people return to turn to hospitals for treatment, prompting the Department of Health to order a new conversion of beds, from Covid to normal.
However, the slowdown in ordinary and extraordinary performances is not new in recent days. “For months we have been reporting to the regional government the low attention paid to various pathologies and health protocols”: Margherita La Rocca Ruvolo, president of the Sixth Ars commission that deals with health, cites the case of the hospital company Villa Sofia – Cervello, in which the conversion of various wards and beds to Covid wards has stopped ordinary and extraordinary activities. “I know that hematology has had to stop its activities – says La Rocca Ruvolo – and even the department that deals with following patients with liver diseases has suffered a stop”. Medically Assisted Procreation also stops, but only in Palermo: with the closure of the gynecology and obstetrics department due to the pandemic, in fact, the support activities for MAP, which before the emergency reached 188 in a year, were interrupted . The operations have restarted with the recent conversion of the gynecology department to its original duties. She had intervened on the matter Marianna Caronia, regional deputy of Forza Italia and member of the sixth commission: “If anyone wanted examples of the side effects of Covid-19 on Sicilian health – Caronia had declared after a hearing in committee on the subject two weeks ago – here is a sensational one. Once again we are not talking about cold numbers but about people, women and unborn children in particular, who in fact no longer receive health care in the city, if not in a marginal way “.
On the contrary, the structure dedicated to the MAP of the Cannizzaro hospital in Catania continued to work, apart from the forced break of March and April 2020, and has carried out more than three hundred cycles of assisted fertilization, as well as several hundred consultations for couple infertility. “The fact that Catania remains in operation on the same performances and Palermo instead stops – says Margherita La Rocca Ruvolo – is very worrying. It is as if we tend towards a series A and a series B health care within our own region ”.
The sixth commission also receives news from medical societies that express concern about the management of non-Covid patients. “In a request for a hearing received in recent days – says La Rocca Ruvolo – three scientific societies that deal with cardiology, Aiac, Gise and Sicve, reported that during the pandemic, mortality from heart attack tripled, while hospitalizations they have halved. This situation is an ordeal for patients, who do not know where to turn to get their treatment “.
The fund dance
Another problem that engages the managers of Sicilian hospitals is that of resources, both financial and personnel. As he said in the courtroom Antonino De Luca, member of the ARS of the Five Star Movement, “At this moment the only general manager who remained in the department is examining the needs plans of the various Asps, therefore the expenditure ceilings, the organic plants”. In the case of the Villa Sofia – Cervello hospital, the expenditure ceiling for the organic plant, or for the people who serve to carry out the services, has gone from 141 million in 2011 to 138 in 2021. A figure that according to a technical data sheet drawn up by sixth commission would be inadequate, especially given the amount of services assigned to the Palermo hospital: “The 2021 spending ceiling – reads the document – is absolutely insufficient to support ordinary and specialized activities relating to CQRC, Laboratory for transplantation organ and others. The expenses related to the activation of new beds for the Infectious Disease Center at the CTO must necessarily be written off and financed through dedicated funds “. In other words: a new infectious disease center cannot be activated, according to the sixth commission, with the same funds allocated in past years for the entire hospital. We need to set aside and find new sums.
At the Papardo hospital in Messina, however, the organic plant was rejected. With what effects it is always Antonino De Luca who denounced it in the courtroom: “They have reduced the appropriations by 8 million euros, putting 156 jobs as doctors at risk and the cut in services and operational units”. On the issue of Papardo, trade unions and politics promise battle as early as next Tuesday, when the issue will be at the center of a hearing at ARS.
The commissioner “on time” and the motion
The increasingly frequent request, expressed in the classroom not only by De Luca but also by Giuseppe Lupo of the PD, and reiterated in a joint motion of the opposition (Pd, 5 Stelle and Cento Passi by Claudio Fava), is that Nello Musumeci to report to the regional parliament about what is happening in health care. As interim health councilor, the sixth commission does not fail to include the president of the region among those called to the hearings, but Musumeci would never show up.
Among the issues to talk about, in addition to those of “ordinary” health, there is also the management of the Covid emergency itself. In recent weeks, several hubs have been inaugurated throughout Sicily and the region continues to vaccinate at a pace within the national average, above all thanks to the success of the open days. At the same time, there are still some chiaroscuro about the coverage of the older sections of the population, too far from a Sicilian healthcare that focuses entirely on hospitals, or that are hesitating precisely at the idea of getting vaccinated. The result is that the percentage of vaccinated Sicilians remains among the lowest in Italy.
A situation that prompted the groups at the Ars of Movimento Cinque Stelle, the Democratic Party and Cento Passi to present a motion in abrupt tones: “The delays and disorganization that occur in the management of the health emergency – the document reads – cause negative consequences and difficulties also on the correct functioning of ordinary healthcare. Sicily needs a health councilor who deals with the ARS and with the national institutions and who is dedicated to addressing the current and very serious health problems full-time and, above all, in this delicate phase of the health emergency linked to ‘Covid-19 epidemic, with a continuous and uninterrupted presence to address the countless daily problems ”. The motion continues with requests to the President of the Region: “Musumeci has full involvement in the vaccination campaign of general practitioners according to the new guidelines adopted by Commissioner Covid Figliuolo. Clearly state what are the activities and results of the commissioner structures in the three metropolitan areas, what is the state of the organization and efficiency of the emergency-urgency network and more generally what is the state of implementation of the regional law on the reorganization of the Health Service Regional and that on the adaptation of the hospital network “.