Mamma Ombretta watches the sun of Misurina set on the snowy lake while from the room of Pius XII her child asks insistently “when is Santa Claus arriving?” . Ombretta’s family lives in Milan but is originally from Parma, the same city as the diocesan institution of San Bernardo degli Uberti which Pius XII announced the closure on December 31st.
Words that echo menacingly through the corridors of the “yellow building” where Ombretta walks nervously, waiting for good news that doesn’t arrive.
«Everything is perfect here, the assistance of doctors and nursing staff is simply commendable», says Ombretta, who has a lot of character, «my son and I are pampered from morning to night. With us are another dozen children. Some have other types of health needs but are still hosted by the institution these days”.
Everyone, young and old, knows that the institute will close on 31 December; but no one at the moment makes it weigh.
«There will never be any puff capable of replacing Misurina’s treatments», repeats Mamma Ombretta like a mantra, whom Pius XII knows very well. He set foot there for the first time when he was three years old. As a patient, then.
«My mother Francesca worked here as an educator», she says, «at the turn of the seventies and eighties. One evening, hearing me breathe with a whistle, she immediately understood my problem. She decided to fly me up here and I, today more than yesterday, can only thank her ».
Thirty years or so, history repeats itself with roles reversed.
«As a former asthmatic child I found myself in the role of mother of an asthmatic child. My husband is too. My one and a half year old son had a first bad respiratory crisis. We rushed him to the emergency room in Milan where we live. I knew right away that history was repeating itself. I honestly thought I could manage the situation from home: I was wrong ».
A December day five years ago, difficult for mom Ombretta to forget.
«In the emergency room they told me that the boy had had a bad asthma attack produced by the phlegm. The doctors said he had pneumonia but the rays shortly after averted this hypothesis. They gave my son a massive dose of cortisone and at 10.30pm they discharged us.
At that moment, getting back into the car to go home, I immediately called Pius XII of Misurina, mindful of the experience lived on my skin. They had saved me, many years before, I prayed as the phone rang that someone, at that moment, would answer me to save my son too. Three, four rings at most and they answered from the switchboard. Pius XII’s assistance, including by telephone, is available 24 hours a day. A week later we were in Misurina».
No doctor advised Ombretta to be treated by Pius XII.
«My son’s first hospitalization was of my own free will, privately, therefore paying for the service», he adds, «the rest was done by the national health service; but to get to Misurina personal experience was fundamental. The only certainty is that since then my son has never been in an emergency room…”.
Since then, Ombretta and her son have spent more or less long periods in Misurina. Several times a year.
«This last cycle of treatment granted to us is 21 days. In my day, Dr. Baronio recommended one-month cycles to obtain benefits. We will leave on December 10th and who knows if one day we will be able to return. I’ll be there for ten days, then my mother-in-law will come. Work calls, it’s not easy to reconcile everything. Let’s say that I’m only doing it because I know perfectly well that it’s worth it. My son’s health is worth it, which matters more than anything else, but the sacrifices are truly enormous. Differences with the past? As a small patient I remember a very different situation, not in the care always at the highest levels, but in the conception of the institution. There were many children, a cheerful atmosphere. I remember the schools, even the kindergarten ».
It is impossible, regardless of the “surrounding”, to think of having to do without, from January 1st, Misurina’s aria which reconciles heart and soul. «A puff will never replace the air up here», Ombretta repeats like a mantra; and his son, sitting on the bed, insistently asks when Santa Claus is coming…