VICENZA, Italy - After a break due to the pandemic, the second edition of the Healthcare Expo took place April 12 at the Vicenza Middle and Elementary multipurpose room in the Villaggio Housing area.
Amy Cates, U.S. Army Garrison Italy’s Community Readiness and Resiliency Integrator, said the event helped introduce medical options to the Vicenza military community so that community members feel comfortable seeking care while in Italy.
“Over the last two years the COVID-19 pandemic had prevented many from seeking medical appointments for preventative care,” said Cates, who added how during the last five months, the CR2C has been coordinating with English speaking medical providers from the area to bring a variety of specialties to the VMC.
Roughly 15,000 U.S. citizens live in Vicenza and its province. Many use Italian services for their primarily health care. Last year, staff from the Department of Defense Education Activity requested a healthcare expo, like those held in the past.
“Since civilians, retirees, and vets have been no longer able to use the Ederle health clinic, the ‘Meet the Provider Health Expo’ in 2019 and the one held this week, have been beneficial in bridging connections with services on the economy,” said Jessica Sparling, a psychologist at the middle school. “Many families are outside of their comfort zones when navigating personal needs abroad,” Sparling said.
About one third of the students are dependents of U.S. civilian who need assistance with off-post medical appointments, she said.
At the event, many physicians and specialists were present to discuss plans and demonstrations, some with visual projections and samples of technology used in prosthetics and casts. Providers appreciated the opportunity to network with one another exchanging information and ways to refer individuals with multiple needs, Sparling said.
“We were here three years ago, before the pandemic,” said Simone Cobetto Ghiggia, executive director of Joy Center, a company that assists Americans throughout Italy. “We are grateful to be part of this event because it allows us to create and develop our connection with the American community.”
Tricare representatives provided information to attendees. Around 30 volunteers supported the event, to include staff from Vicenza Community Club, Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers, Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps, local U.S. students and family members.
“We could not have executed this event without a team of volunteers who made this possible,” Cates said. “The medical providers were so grateful to be invited and are already asking when the next event will be.”