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“The lesson of the earthquake pushed us to still be here”

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There are jobs that never stop, for which the word “retirement” seems to clash with “vocation”. Doctors forever. We could call this the group of pensioners who came to the rescue of the population, who put on their shirts again because they have never really stopped wearing the welfare values ​​of solidarity. Healing can become a way of life for those who, with passion and conscience, have always dedicated themselves to others and cared about people’s well-being, their most precious asset, health.

This is why Flavio D’Osualdo, a beloved physiatrist in Udine, known as “the doctor of children” who took to heart children with seriously disabling diseases, in the year of Covid decided to move from retirement to action. A “contagious” initiative, but in a healthy and beneficial sense. He was the first to turn to the health management of central Friuli making himself available as a volunteer, forerunner for a group of 25 professionals from Udine and its surroundings, motivated and prepared by a lifetime of experience in the ward, in the operating room or in clinics, in the hospital or as family doctors, with different specializations, from paediatrics to geriatrics, to preventive medicine. Among these, also a group of volunteers for missions abroad now blocked by the pandemic. Everyone ready to make their contribution.

Spring snaps at Christmas. Doctor D’Osualdo, spokesman for the group of equivalent and equally important professional doctors in their functions, tells us about the spirit that moved them: «How do you sit on the sofa when there are so many people dying or in difficulty? Sick people and their families who need a tampon, the elderly who need an urgent home visit, workers waiting for a certificate. So many needs up to a simple advice or a word of comfort. It is simply impossible to be a spectator if you have been a doctor all your working life ».

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The comparison necessarily goes to the tragedy of the earthquake. At the time, Dr. D’Osualdo was a student at the Faculty of Medicine in Trieste. He remembers the departure in 500 towards the earthquake areas when the news was uncertain and confused. The next morning he was already, with his friends from San Giovanni al Natisone, his town of origin, in Artegna to save people and move rubble. Like him, the other doctors of his generation grew up with this spirit of help: «It is precisely by comparing the numbers of deaths caused by Covid and the earthquake that there is also a difference in reaction as regards us doctors. In 1976 we took action immediately, we were immediately on the spot with an incredible and spontaneous movement of volunteering. In the midst of the Covid pandemic, however, we found ourselves frozen in front of the television to see the numbers of contagion growing day by day. But a doctor cannot stand by and watch ».

The commitment started at Christmas, with the activity linked to the rapid swab, was then divided into different functions, developing into 4 distinct lines of action that see the 25 doctors operating. “Contact tracing” takes place in via Pozzuolo, tracing the contacts of people who have come into contact with the positives to interrupt the transmission chain as soon as possible. “It is the most complex job – specifies Dr. D’Osualdo – because it easily falters as the numbers increase”. In via del Pozzo, on the other hand, positive people are monitored through telephone contacts and end of isolation certificates are issued. Two activities were carried out at the Fiera: on the one hand the rapid swabs with the alert to positives to be timely in isolation even before tracing and, on the other, the vaccine which also provides for an articulated phase of reception and compliance the final. D’Osualdo always explains: «For a doctor who vaccinates, there are 5 more in reception, filter papers and informed consent. It is important to speed up and make the most of all these steps that allow the vaccine to be carried out, for which the maximum effort must be made as the only way out and salvation from Covid “.

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The 25 doctors organized themselves, distributed in shifts, activated for an update through specific training, which was welcomed with pleasure because “by learning you stay young”. The group has also given itself a weekly video-appointment in which the exchange of experiences, difficulties, scientific material, regulations that are rapidly changing takes place.

Thus, the retired doctors are back close to the people. And if it is true that they have spent a life in the midst of suffering, there is no doubt that this commitment, in a state of emergency, has an extraordinary value as a message of solidarity, of “doing”, as the spokesperson of the group says: “It is beautiful the charge that comes from feeling useful. Even a phone call to the home of people in quarantine who are anxious to go back to work or to the elderly who are afraid of going out is important, because we come into contact with a universe of humanity and difficulties ».

Many fundamental activities, for which, as Dr. D’Osualdo reveals on behalf of his colleagues, there is only one “special remuneration”: “It is the gratitude, the” thank you doctor “of those contacted on the phone, the smile behind the mask of those we meet in person. It’s always nice to go home, at the end of the shift, with this treasure ».

So here are our 25 “thank you doctor!” to the 25 “doctors forever” who hope to be able to count on the support of new colleagues, on experience as a resource. –

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