Far Away Feeling at Home - Building a Solidarity Network within Lombardy to Provide Quality Health Services for Ill People who Need Medical Treatment

Project location: ITALY, Lombardia
Project start date: June 2012 - Project end date: March 2013
Project number: 2012-049
Beneficiary: Associazione PROMETEO Onlus

June 2012 - January 2013

Houses census

More than 65 agencies have been surveyed so far. All of them are already committed to the hosting of patients and families coming from afar. Some of the institutions have been rejected since they did not operate in the non-profit sector. 45 have been inspected and only 4 were clearly not interested: this strengthens the level of interest by those agencies in attaining an active role in a connection net. The project's offer now includes 14 new houses. If the trend is confirmed in the near future, between 80 and 100 agencies will be operating in the housing of patients and their families. Half of them are religious, the other half are laic.

Most of the times, the same agency manages several houses and / or apartments: it is an amazing real estate offered pro bono. Milan can allegedly count on about 1,000 beds, mainly in double or twin rooms. Since at the moment such assets can rely only on word of mouth and similar unplanned promotions, the impact of the project is clear and manifest. A virtual house with 1,000 beds will stand up as a dramatic breakthrough.

Project's volunteers have inspected the houses: they are facilities offering a high-level service (e.g. in the supply of bedclothes) and more than adequate tidiness. Moreover, the presence of common areas and kitchens satisfies the need for a house to live in and not just a hotel room to stay. Prices are never firmly set: a free offer (around 10.00 / 20.00€ per night) is usually accepted and sometimes free sojourns are also provided. In some cases, people hosted in a house also cover the expenses of those who cannot afford it.

A research on medical migration

A questionnaire was distributed in six large Hospitals in Milan (Policlinico, Besta, Istituto Tumori, Pini, CTO, Niguarda) focusing on the demand impact for housing. More than 1000 data sheets have already been gathered and the collection is still in progress.

More than 25% of the people interviewed has reserved a place to stay in Milan in the last year: among them, more than 18% stayed about one month.

More than 80% would like to receive more information on the houses availability from the Internet or directly in the hospitals. Most of them also expressed the reasonable need to know the availability of the hosting houses before leaving home. Since most hospitalizations are unplanned, a significant portion of patients just receives a call from the hospital the day before their admission is required. On such short notice, their demand for speedy and undisputable information is quite reasonable. The Net the project is trying to launch among all the houses would be an effective and efficient tool to react to this need.

Some data on hospitals and the Health System.

About 150,000 people travel to Lombardy from other regions for medical reasons every year. Some of them are part of border mobility: towns like Brescia, Pavia and Mantua display a mobility connected mainly to commuting and do not require a complex hosting system. According to data collected by the three Milan ASL's, our city attracts more than 100,000 people yearly: this is exactly the amount of people needing housing since the portion of border mobility is limited. Furthermore, a large amount of those requiring hosting belong to the weakest population (about 20/25% of the whole percentage mentioned above).
All State hospitals serving Lombardy attract people coming from other Italian regions. Besta and Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori respectively hold more than 50% and about 40% of mid- and long hospitalizations (more than one day). Even out of Milan (S. Matteo Hospital in Pavia, for example), hospitals attract patients coming from afar. However, although every city has one hospital serving these type of patients, Milan includes 15 of them. The impact on the area is quite heavy.

Foundation of an agency to organize the promoting associations and their partners

In these last few months of activity, both Associazione PROMETEO and its campaigners (Lilt, AVO Milano, Casa Amica, Associazione Marta Nurizzo) have felt a strong need to create a connection agency capable of managing ideas, activities and desires around the net to create. To attain this goal and evaluate its legal range, Associazione PROMETEO has relied on the pro bono aid of the international legal practice Latham & Watkins: they are devising a legal opinion on the matter together with solid proposals.

Call center and website

Fondazione Filo Diretto will supply a call center service from April 2013 on. Also Teva, a pharmaceutical company, is providing help to devise communication strategies, such as the website planning (www.acasalontanidacasa.org, whose domain has already been reserved) that will be active in the same period.


A paper guide will display the list of the houses available together with contacts and directions. Its publication and circulation is scheduled for April 2013.

The net among the houses and the hospitals

An additional section of the project will design a net connecting the available services among the houses and the hospitals through:

Computerization of the various agencies and the single houses through pc / mobile phones;
Creation of shuttle bus services to connect the hospitals and the hosting houses on middle and long distances (through special price taxis or shuttles).

think global, act local
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