Local volunteer doctors tour Rome's peripheries in the donated RV

Refugees receive clothing from volunteers on a street in Rome on July 14. Several refugees said they were planning to head north to countries such as France and Germany. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

A mobile medical unit donated by the Vatican tours Rome's peripheries, offering free health care to those in need.

A local volunteer association of doctors, health care professionals and medical students use the white and blue-striped RV-style vehicle, which carries Vatican City license plates and the Holy See's coat of arms—two keys topped by a papal crown.

Advertisement

Dr. Lucia Ercoli, director the Istituto di Medicina Solidale, told the Vatican newspaper that using a medical unit with Vatican license plates lets the migrants, "who live in truly inhumane conditions" in the forgotten corners of Rome, see and experience "the closeness of the pope and the church."

Of the people they serve, many are women, including expectant mothers, as well as children, people who have been tortured in their home country and parents whose children drowned in the sea during their dangerous journey to Italy, she said in an interview published on July 13.

The association of medical volunteers has been active since 2004, she said. They partner with other nonprofit groups and the church to staff makeshift clinics and offer services in places of great need.

As of last summer, they started providing services once a week to a church-run center for immigrants near a city train station.

"Hundreds of people," she said, would show up Saturday mornings to get a check-up "and we could do so thanks entirely to the almoner's office that supplied us with the medicines."

The Vatican almoner's office also offered the camper-like medical unit, and now there is a more private setting for patients that better respects their dignity, and the unit is outfitted with needed equipment, she said.

"Thanks to the Vatican camper, so far we have seen more than 2,000 people" by heading to shanty towns and abandoned buildings where the poor and homeless seek shelter, rather than wait for them at a volunteer center.

The Istituto di Medicina Solidale has also been providing medical care for those in need every Monday at a first aid station near the colonnade at St. Peter's Square, again with support from the papal almoner's office, which is funded by charitable contributions from Pope Francis and private donors.

The first aid station for the poor was opened in February, joining the other services — showers, bathrooms and a unisex salon — which opened under the colonnade in early 2015.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

The latest from america

Protestors march to support a U.N. anti-corruption commission in Guatemala City on Jan. 6. Photo by Jackie McVicar.
“What they are doing not only puts Guatemala at risk but the entire region. Bit by bit, for more than a year, they have been trying to divide us. The elections are at risk. We are six months away.”
Jackie McVicarJanuary 18, 2019
“We will just do what we need to do to help people in need,” said Antonio Fernandez, C.E.O. of Catholic Charities for the Archdiocese of San Antonio.
Emma Winters January 18, 2019
The study found Latina immigrant women in Arizona who were pregnant during the contentious S.B. 1070 passage had babies with lower birthweight compared with those in prior years. Average birth weights did not decrease among U.S.-born white, black or Latina women during the same time.
J.D. Long-GarcíaJanuary 18, 2019
This week's guest is Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, founder of New Wave Feminists, a pro-life feminist organization dedicated to changing the divisive language surrounding the abortion debate.
Olga SeguraJanuary 18, 2019