Tucked away in a corner of Bernini's colonnade is the Madre di Misericordia Clinic. This Vatican medical center serves the homeless on a daily basis. And to mark World Day of the Poor, it has extended its hours.
Director, Madre de Misericordia Clinic
This week, in anticipation of the 7th World Day of the Poor, the Dicastery wanted to keep it open all day, so from morning until evening, with continuous hours. About 50 doctors will take turns in two shifts just to ensure a continuous service to assist more and more of the poor.
In this outpatient clinic we do examinations for general medicine and specialist medicine. We do Covid swabs, flu shots and blood draws for blood tests.
The number of people coming to the clinic for help continues to rise. In October alone, some 1,500 people visited the center for various medical examinations, ranging from the most basic to more complicated tests related to the heart or lungs.
DR. SILLI PAOLO
I've been here since 8:30am and had 45 appointments. They weren't super complicated, but they were useful. We give the patients the medications that we can do here in the pharmacy. Then, if they have particular medications and we evaluate that they are beneficial, we can make the prescription and send the patients to the in-house pharmacy. And this is how the outpatient clinic works everyday, except Wednesday and Sunday.
Dr. Silli Paolo is a veteran doctor at the clinic. When he retired, Cardinal Krajewski told him about this initiative and, since 2016, he has been one of the volunteers serving at the clinic, located in the Vatican.
DR. SILLI PAOLO
Pope Francis wanted an outpatient clinic here in St. Peter's. Basically, the question was but isn't it better to create an outpatient clinic in another area? And the Pope said, “Absolutely not. The reason to have it here is that it has a special significance.” Then it is a point where these patients can go to take a shower. And so they know that there is a certain point where they can get help.
Italy is one of the countries in Europe with the highest number of people who are homeless. According to the latest data from the National Institute of Statistics, in December 2022, there were more than 22,000 people without a roof to sleep under on a daily basis in Rome.