Published earlier today on the Italian Insider.
Task Force dispatched to ant infested hospital
By, Florence Brock
NAPLES – A shocking image in the General Medicine ward at San Paolo Hospital Naples made its way to the Minister of Health Beatrice Lorenzin Tuesday, resulting in immediate Military Police for Public Health (NAS) intervention and the opening of a national Task Force investigation.
Covered in ants. That is how a patient hospitalized at the Naples’ public hospital was captured on film and disseminated instantly throughout Italian media.
In a place where sterilized environment in hospitals should be at the base of decent healthcare, there is an ant war going on. “Mine is the bed closest to the window and, even with a post-operative wound, I couldn’t stay in bed last night. I had to get up because there were ants in my sheets,” says hospital patient Giuseppe I. age 73. “Unfortunately, the battle against these insects has been going on for days,” another patient confirms: “ The ants come especially when the sun goes down.” Those were the words published on Il Mattino, not this week, but almost five years ago.
Hospital Health Director at the time, Fiorella Cito, responded to the warning by personally going to the public structure.
“I have seen the situation room by room, bathroom by bathroom and I have even visited the external grounds and I am providing for massive intervention that has already shown positive results. The important thing to emphasize is that the situation is not due to shortcomings, hygiene or cleanliness. I have requested for fumigation in order to solve the problem radically.” Her statement was pronounced on September 8, 2012.
Five years later, the war forges ahead.
The NAS military police and inspectors from the ministerial task force went to work Tuesday for hours in San Paolo Hospital offices. With most of the day meticulously spent trying to understand how such an unbelievable thing could happen, authorities tried to figure out who could be responsible for the episode.
“It has come to my attention that there is internal work underway on the ward and bedsheets infested with ants were thereafter found in a storeroom,” declares Minister Lorenzin.
Newly appointed hospital Health Director Vito Rago has already ordered for the first clean-up intervention. During the morning, labourers were already hard at work, cleaning flowerbeds in front of the hospital entrance. The director equally promised for the pruning of uncultivated trees towering over patients’ windows as with the serious clean up of all the green areas.
As Rago announces an internal investigation for the attribution of responsibility due to the ant invasion, he says: “ I am trying to eradicate this ant phenomena that, I have been told, has been causing problems for years and that must never manifest itself again.”
The episode has led to many comments including leader of the LEGA party Matteo Salvini who states: “anyone who speculates on the ill should be behind bars for quite a long time. I hope the culprit responsible for leaving ants crawling around will be fired immediately,” he concludes.
For the Mayor of Naples Luigi de Magistris, it has to do with “ something that is absolutely unacceptable, in comprehensible and serious,” that necessitates less propaganda and better-spent public funds and resources.
Met with criticism in the management of regional public health, Governor Vincenzo de Luca personally visited the hospital accompanied by the Regional Health inspection unit. “The ward is clean. There had been some work done on the oxygen system and we currently have a problem with trees because the long branches reach the patient’s balconies.” In reference to the ants, he points out: “I have been told that problems like this arise when patients are fed intravenously with sacks rich of glucose and sugar. Besides this episode, Campania Health system is a disaster. We have been working breathlessly for it to return to a state of excellence. For too many years, it has been penalised by petty politicians, polluted by delinquents, Camorra and speculators of all kinds,” he explains.