Needing health care abroad can be a real pill. When living in a foreign country and an unfamiliar city where you don’t speak the language, having to set up a doctor’s appointment can be frustrating and nerve-racking. But don’t worry: it’s much easier than you think.
How to make a doctor’s appointment
First things first, if you’re a student studying at one of the American campuses in Florence, find out if your school offers any medical services. Some universities have regular visits on campus by English-speaking doctors, and appointments can be scheduled through the school. Oftentimes, these services are covered by the school and thus are free of charge.
If this isn’t your case, or you need an appointment more promptly than your school can offer, there are a number of alternatives. The Tourist Medical Service is a practice of English-speaking doctors, both general practitioners and specialists. The office is centrally located in via Roma, only steps away from the Duomo. Walk-ins are welcome Monday through Friday, 11–12 noon, 1–3pm and 5–6pm, or Saturday 11–12 noon and 1–3pm. Otherwise they offer house calls 24/7; call the office number 055 475411055 475411 and a recorded message will tell you the number of the on-call doctor. During office hours, the same number can be used to book an appointment with a specialist in a number of fields, from cardiology to gynecology. Tourist Medical Service accepts most travel or medical insurance policies, so make sure to take a copy of your policy with you.
Another centrally located medical option is British-trained general practitioner, Dr. Stephen Kerr. Dr Kerr has been looking after the medical needs of Anglophones in Florence since 1998. The clinic is located just a few minutes’ walk north of the Ponte Vecchio and just south of piazza della Repubblica. You can walk in without an appointment from 3–5pm from Monday to Friday or make an appointment Monday to Friday from 9am to 3pm by phoning 055 288055055 288055 or 335 8361682335 8361682.
For a comprehensive list of multilingual doctors specialized in a range of medical fields, take a look at the U.S. Embassy’s website (PDF).
In case of emergency
In case of a medical emergency in Italy, call 118. By calling this number an ambulance is dispatched to your location and will take you to the closest hospital. Emergency services in Italy (including ambulance) are free of charge. Florence’s three emergency rooms are at the Santa Maria Nuova, Santa Maria Annunziata (Ponte a Niccheri) and Careggi hospitals. Upon arrival at an emergency room, you will be given a priority code. There are four color-coded categories: white, green, yellow and red. You will be assigned one based on the urgency of your condition; if you are assigned white or green, in most cases you should be prepared for a long wait. Even if you have been waiting for hours someone assigned a yellow code will always be given priority over you, even if they have just arrived.
If you have prescription medication from abroad, the majority of these can be filled here in Italy by getting a prescription from an Italian doctor. To make things easier you should have your doctor from abroad write down the generic name of the drug, as it will most likely be manufactured by a different pharmaceutical company. Always make sure you have a doctor’s note authorizing you to possess these medications. Ideally you should bring enough prescribed medication with you to last the duration of your stay in order to avoid confusion while abroad.
Medical Services in Florence
Dr. Antonio Weber is a family physician / general practitioner who completed postgraduate studies at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. He has worked in Florence since 1985 and speaks English and German fluently.
Via delle Porte Nuove 18, 50144 Florence. Tel: +39 055359935 / mob: +39 3355309805/ e-mail email@example.com
Monday to Friday 8.45-10am 2.30-7pm – Saturday 9-11 am (on appointment only)
Tourist Medical Service
Via Roma 4, Florence. Tel. 055 475411055 475411
Dr. Stephen Kerr
Piazza Mercato Nuovo 1, Florence. Tel. 055 288055055 288055
WHAT TO DO IF
You need a 24-hour English speaking house call doctor:
MedinAction is an on-demand house call medical service for travelers and expatriates that delivers qualified English-speaking doctors to a patient’s doorstep, 24/7. You can reach them by downloading the app, visiting the website or on WhatsApp +39 320.4065709.
You need a 24-hour pharmacy:
Farmacia Comunale, Santa Maria Novella train station, tel. 055 216761055 216761;
Molteni, via Calzaiuoli 7, tel. 055 215 472055 215 472;
All’Insegna del Moro, piazza del Duomo 20R, tel. 055 211343055 211343.
For a full list of Florence’s pharmacies, visit here.
You need the morning-after pill:
You can’t just walk into a pharmacy and ask for Plan B: you need to have a prescription. Either go to a doctor or to Careggi hospital. Those between 14 and 24 years can to a Centro Consulenza Giovani (CCG). You can walk in, for free, to via G. D’Annunzio 29 from 2 to 5pm on Mondays and Tuesdays or to via dell’Osteria 8 from 2:30 to 5pm on Fridays. Doctors in Italy are NOT obliged to prescribe the morning-after pill.
You need a flu shot:
Anyone can buy a flu shot from an Italian pharmacy. The vaccination is free for over 65s, those suffering from certain illnesses (such as diabetes) and pregnant women.